It’s estimated that around 5.7 million Americans are currently living with dementia. Of those people, over 60% are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia, especially progressive dementia, can be a genuinely devastating ailment.
What Is Progressive Dementia? Signs, Symptoms and More
But by understanding what the signs, symptoms, and causes of dementia are, you and your loved ones can be better prepared and understand the condition. Are you interested in learning more? If so, continue reading, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes various symptoms that affect memory and social and mental abilities severely enough to change one’s daily life. Dementia isn’t a specific disease. However, several different conditions can lead to dementia.
Although memory loss is a common aspect of dementia, memory loss can be caused by various factors. Because of this, experiencing memory troubles doesn’t automatically mean that you have dementia.
The most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults is Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are several other causes of dementia too. On the positive side, some symptoms of dementia can be reversed, depending on the cause.
Symptoms of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia typically involve cognitive changes as well as psychological changes. Cognitive changes include:
- Trouble communicating or finding words
- Trouble reasoning or problem-solving
- Loss of memory
- Trouble with organizing and planning
- Trouble with spatial and visual abilities
- Disorientation and confusion
- Trouble handling complex tasks
- Trouble with motor functions and coordination
Psychological changes associated with dementia include:
- Inappropriate behavior
- Personality changes
If you or a loved one is experiencing memory issues or other symptoms of dementia, you should see a doctor. Some of the conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia are treatable.
If you have a loved one with progressive dementia, you need to know how to handle and care for them.
Causes of Dementia
Loss of or damage to nerve cells and their connections in the brain can cause dementia. Depending on where the damage has taken place in the brain, dementia can affect people differently and lead to various symptoms.
Types of dementia are often categorized based on what they have in common. This can be protein(s) deposited in the brain or the area of the brain impacted. Some ailments can seem like dementia, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or a reaction to medications, and they can improve with treatment.
Progressive dementia is dementia that progresses and is not reversible. The most common cause of progressive dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
While we don’t know all of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, we know that a small group of those affected have Alzheimer’s because of mutations in three genes.
While several genes are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, an essential increase in a person’s risk is apolipoprotein E4 (APOE).
A person with Alzheimer’s disease has tangles and plaques in their brain. Tangles are fibrous tangles made of tau protein. Plaques are clumps of a protein known as beta-amyloid.
It’s believed that these clumps can damage healthy neurons and the fibers that connect them.
Another common type of dementia is caused by damage to the vessels that move blood to the brain. Issues with blood vessels can lead to a person having a stroke. It can also harm the brain in other ways too.
For example, it can damage the fibers that are in the white matter in the brain.
Some of the most common signs of vascular dementia include trouble with focus, problem-solving, organization, and slowed thinking. These symptoms are usually more noticeable than the loss of memory.
Lewy Body Dementia
A Lewy body is an abnormal clump of balloon-like shaped protein. This can be found in the brains of people who have Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is a relatively common cause of dementia.
Typical signs of Lewy body dementia include seeing things that aren’t there (visual hallucinations), acting out your dreams while you’re sleeping, and having difficulty with attention and focus.
Rigidity (parkinsonism), tremors, and slow or uncoordinated movement are other symptoms of Lewy body dementia.
There is no definite way to prevent dementia. However, there are several steps that people can take that could help. More research still needs to be done on the subject.
With that said, you should keep your mind active. Performing tasks like reading, learning a new language, and solving puzzles can help strengthen the connections in your brain and establish new ones. The more neural connections you have in your brain, and the stronger they are, the more likely you will be able to fight off dementia.
Also, if you needed yet another reason to give up smoking, here it is. Smoking can restrict your blood vessels, which can lead to dementia.
Taking Care Of Seniors With Dementia
The family is considered the best support system for seniors with dementia. Caregivers should ensure that seniors receive proper care, including mental health activities such as socialization, counseling, and playing brain games for seniors.
Progressive dementia management involves assisting patients in their daily routine and reorienting them to time, place, and location from time to time. They should be guided with mobility, transportation, and personal care to avoid compromising safety. Taking care of patients with dementia can be challenging. You need to stay patient because patients can be repetitive and forgetful.
When family caregivers can’t take care of patients with dementia because of a busy schedule, they can hire in-home care services or consider bringing their elderly loved ones to a nursing home. Of course, as much as families want to live with their senior parents or grandparents, some can’t afford to give up their jobs because they also need to provide for the family. Nevertheless, seniors can stay productive, healthy, and happy in assisted living facilities. They’ll be provided with the proper medical and mental health care they need, especially patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic medical conditions. Nursing facilities employ the right people to provide complete care for senior citizens for the peace of mind of their families.
The Importance of Knowing About Progressive Dementia
Progressive dementia can be a scary condition. But by knowing what it is, what its symptoms are, and how to prevent it, we can be better prepared should it enter our lives somehow.
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