Dementia causes, symptoms and types
Dementia is an umbrella terms for a number of neurological conditions which cause a mostly gradual decline in the ability to think, remember and carry out simple daily tasks. It has become one of the most feared conditions for those over 55 so I thought some answers to common questions might be helpful.
What are the different types of dementia?
Alzheimers – which is the most common form of dementia in this country; vascular dementia; and dementia with Lewys bodies. These three conditions together are currently said to be affecting just over one million people in the UK
What is the difference between types of dementia?
Alzheimers has “plaques” which live between the dying cells in the brain and “tangles” which live within the cells both of these are due to protein abnormalities.
Vascular dementia is caused when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by a narrowing or blockage to the blood vessels.
Dementia with Lewys bodies has small circular lumps of protein which develop inside the brain cells.
What about senile dementia?
That term is no longer used now that there is a clearer understanding that dementia is causes by specific conditions rather than simply ageing.
What causes dementia?
Unfortunately we do not yet know and research is ongoing about this. However we do know that doing what’s good for your hear will also be good for your brain. These are things like
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis
- Not smoking and minimising the drinking of alcohol
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
Research on 2017 also talked about risk factors such as
- Hearing loss
- Depression which is untreated
- Being lonely or isolated
You can see a more full description about nine lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of dementia here
What are the early symptoms of dementia?
Memory loss is the most common but of course that is equally frequent in old age. Other early symptoms include
- problems with concentration
- struggling with daily tasks
- finding it difficult to follow a conversation
- being confused about time and place
- and changes in mood
If you are concerned about yourself or others I recommend that you take a memory test like ours
Many people are worried about doing this, but it’s important to find out if you have the early signs of dementia because if it is caused by vascular problems it can be slowed or stopped by lifestyle changes and treatment. There are also medications available which can alleviate dementia symptoms.
Where can I find out more information about living with Dementia?
I would recommend the Dementia UK website. On this page they have information leaflets including
- Tips for communicating
- Understanding changes in behaviour and reducing distress
- Complementary therapies
- Looking after yourself as a carer and
- Planning for the future
I hope this has been helpful, if the information in this blog post has made you concerned for yourself or others please contact your GP.
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