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Dementia – What Is It?

Dementia

Caring for a loved one who suffers from dementia is heartbreaking and can be a challenging prospect for nursing homes as well. The progressive brain disorder makes it difficult for those who suffer from it to recall things, communicate their intentions, think clearly or even take care of their own selves.

What Causes Dementia?

The primary cause of dementia is brain damage. Some of its most common neurodegenerative forms include Alzheimer’s diseases, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. The brain cells of the patients who suffer from any of these diseases die faster than is typical for the normal aging process. This eventually leads to a breakdown of a patient’s mental and physical faculties.

Dementia Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, the brain disorder does not signify a specific disease. Rather, it specifies a wide variety of symptoms. These symptoms can vary greatly. However, the following must be severely impaired in order for a decisive diagnosis –

* Language and communication
* Memory
* Visual perception
* Judgment and reasoning
* Ability to pay attention and focus
* Withdrawal and apathy
* Personality changes
* Inability to perform everyday tasks

For example, a person who suffers from dementia may keep misplacing certain items like car keys or a wallet or forget where he or she put them. The patient may also have trouble keeping track of appointments, paying bills on time or planning anything.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The brain of a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s shrinks due to a loss of brain cells. Also known as atrophy, the condition affects the cerebral cortex or the grey matter that is responsible for facilitating most of the brain’s functions. As a result, a person who suffers from the condition might have trouble recalling or storing thoughts.

Frontotemporal Dementia

This particular type of dementia is commonly found in patients who are below the age of 65. Frontotemporal dementia, as the name implies, is caused by brain damage and shrinking in the frontal and temporal lobes. While there is no specific cause attached to the disorder, it is believed that over 20% of patients acquire it through genetic mutation.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Lewy bodies are clumps of circular protein that accumulate in brain cells and cause dementia. While dementia symptoms that are caused by Lewy bodies do not point to a cause, the general consensus is that the protein lumps interfere with the two chemicals that are responsible for relaying information from one brain cell to the other; acetylcholine and dopamine.

Less common causes of dementia can also include depression, brain tumors, brain infections that can be related to HIV, head injuries, thyroid hormone deficiency, Huntington’s disease, alcohol abuse and Vitamin B deficiency.

Who Gets It?

While it is true that older people have more chances of suffering from the condition, it is important to remember that it can occur in people who are younger than 65. Dementia patients also range in their 40s and 50s.

By: Dewayne Jenkins

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