People who have dementia experience a gradual worsening in the ability to think clearly, and this affects their day to day life. Rather than being a medical condition in and of itself, "dementia" is a term used to describe a range of symptoms, including impairments in memory, reason and judgment, visual perception, communication, language and focus. The symptoms of dementia can be present with various medical conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease.
Causes and Types of Dementia
Dementia develops because of damage to the cells in the brain, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people assume that dementia is a natural part of getting older, but that is not the case. Though some age-related forgetfulness is to be expected, if it becomes serious and affects daily life, the person should be seen by a doctor and treated for a medical condition.
Some forms of dementia are irreversible. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, ischemic vascular dementia, Parkinson’s dementia and others. In some cases, however, the symptoms of dementia can be reversed. For example, some people begin to develop dementia symptoms because of their use of certain medications, emotional distress, nutritional deficiencies or other problems. Often, correcting these problems with the body and mind can lead to an improvement in the symptoms of dementia.
Treatment of Dementia
Following an overall healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and staying socially and mentally active are all steps that might play a role in preventing dementia. Once dementia is present, treatment may be able to keep the disease from progressing as rapidly. Medications are available to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other irreversible dementias. In addition, treating any other health problems that are present may help with dementia, as well.
SOURCES: Alzheimer’s Association; Family Caregiver Alliance
Married people may have a lower risk of dementia, new study finds.
New survey results illustrate the ups and downs of caring for aging family members
Annual bills for this early onset disease twice as high as for Alzheimer's, study says
Women who develop high blood pressure in mid-adulthood at increased risk of dementia, study finds
Study didn't find same link in men
Genetic test might one day diagnose the disease before symptoms occur, researchers say
Long-term study suggests inability to identify scents may be early sign of problems
But study didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship
Rates have fallen among those 70 and older; gains against heart disease might explain trend
People who get less REM sleep may be at increased risk of dementia, study finds.
For every 1 percent drop in sleep's REM phase, a 9 percent jump in odds for thinking, memory troubles, study found
Annual costs may top $320,000, study estimates
And study found that healthy reductions may benefit blacks even more than whites
Researchers say proton pump inhibitors like Nexium or Prilosec not linked to dementia
Stays are often two weeks longer, British study says
But the research only found an association, not cause-and-effect connection
Of greatest importance are diabetes, blood pressure and smoking, researchers say
But finding comes with cautions against excessive alcohol use over extended periods
Stick to familiar routines, advises Alzheimer's Foundation
Study found odds for mental decline still higher for those born in certain southeastern U.S. states
In small study, electrical currents helped distinguish Alzheimer's from another form of brain trouble
No position on the football field seemed to confer protection, study says
Reducing mid-life hearing loss might make the biggest difference
Skills lost, such as dressing or bathing, can potentially be relearned, small study suggests
Studies found sleep apnea tied to higher levels of tell-tale plaques, proteins in brain
Regular puzzlers score better on tests of mental function, study finds
Good staff training improved patients' quality of life, lowered costs, study says
Researchers find head injuries from fighting cause brain changes that might spur troubles later in life
Threat even higher when injury occurs in middle age, study reveals
Seniors whose pace dropped showed shrinkage in brain region linked to memory, spatial orientation
New research debunks other studies suggesting that medications used to treat ulcers, reflux cause mental decline
DNA studies reveal alcoholics have shorter telomeres, key markers of aging and overall health
The public should be aware of this encouraging research, expert says
Researchers believe these substances form in early stages of the memory-robbing disease
With U.S. cases expected to triple to 16 million by 2050, support for caregivers desperately needed
2-year difference seen between people with degenerative brain diseases and their healthy peers
Even people with a low risk of stroke could benefit, researchers say
Careers, finances may take a hit because of caregiving demands, researchers say
But negative relationships with children, spouse increased chances, study finds
An 'older' mind is linked to signs of physical and mental problems, study contends