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What is Dementia?

May 22, 2017

After hearing the term dementia some people don't know what that is or they know it is memory loss and that is all. Well really imagine a tree, the trunk of the tree is the broad term dementia and the branches are the different types of dementia such as Alzheimer's, Vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, mixed dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Huntington's disease and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

Now some people have heard of these types of dementia and a lot of people have heard of Alzheimer's and joke with others about memory loss but it is no joking matter considering 5.5 million American's are diagnosed with this disease. Some symptoms of Alzheimer's are memory loss, loss of motor function, poor judgment, impaired communication, troubles walking; this disease starts long before any symptoms occur and the easiest way of explaining Alzheimer's is saying it is the shrinking of the brain. There is no cure for this disease and is the 5th largest cause of death and the 3rd most common reason for death in elderly.

Vascular dementia is commonly known as post-stroke dementia this disease is only 10% of dementia cases and some symptoms are impaired judgment, memory loss, very similar to Alzheimer's and is caused by a brain bleed which causes a stroke. 

Dementia with Lewy bodies have thought process problems and memory loss and their symptoms include aggressiveness, memory loss, early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, and slowness, gait imbalance or other parkinsonian movement features.

Mixed dementia is pretty self-explanatory it has to do with more dementias occurring simultaneously in the brain and is very common. The most common mixed dementias are Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, but also other types such as dementia with Lewy bodies.

Parkinson Disease is similar to dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's but symptoms include lack of body function, memory loss, lack of good judgment and slowness. This is caused by clumps deep in the brain and causes nerve problems.

Another dementia is Frontotemporal dementia which as the name suggest forms in the front temporal lobe which is where the brain houses personality traits and behaviors. As this suggest this dementia causes impaired judgment, behavior problems, difficulty with language and personality changes. This develops young like age 60 and survives for fewer years than those with Alzheimer's.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or "mad cow" disease occurs in cattle and has been transmitted to people under certain circumstances the symptoms include rapid fatal disorder that causes memory problems and causes behavior changes.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is difficulty walking, memory loss and inability to control bladder and is caused by fluid in the brain and can be corrected with surgery to drain the fluid.

Chromosome four can hold a sign defective gene that causes Huntington's disease which causes involuntary movements, a decline in ability to process thoughts and reasoning skills, people with this disease will often be depressed and irritable along with mood swings.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a deficiency in vitamin B-1 and is a common cause from misuse of alcohol. Symptoms include memory problems and social skills this happens because the lack of energy produced from sugar intake and levels fall too low for the brain to generate proper function.

The trunk of the tree, dementia, is a chronic disorder of mental processing caused by injury or brain disease and can include memory loss, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. So this describes Dementia and what the different types of dementia are and can help people see that just because one person is diagnosed with dementia doesn't mean that all treatments are the same. Not everyone has the same symptoms and should be approached differently.

Information gathered from Alzheimer's Association:

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