It’s estimated that around 5.7 million Americans are currently living with dementia. Of those people, over 60% of them are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia, especially progressive dementia, can be a truly 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 understanding of the condition. Are you interested in learning more? If so, then continue reading, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a variety of symptoms that affect memory as well as 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 a variety of 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, then you need to know how to handle and care for them.
Causes of Dementia
Loss of or damage to nerve cells, as well as their connections in the brain, can cause dementia. Depending on where in the brain the damage has taken place, dementia can affect people in different ways and lead to various symptoms.
Types of dementia are often categorized based on what they have in common. This can include the protein or proteins deposited in the brain or the area of the brain that’s been impacted. Some ailments can seem like dementia, such as those that are 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 do know that a small group of those affected have Alzheimer’s because of mutations to three genes
While there are several genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, an important one that can increase a person’s risk is apolipoprotein E4 (APOE).
A person who has 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 as well as the fibers that connect them.
Another common type of dementia is one that’s 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 also slowed thinking. These symptoms are usually more noticeable than the loss of memory.
Lewy Body Dementia
A Lewy body is an abnormal clump of ballon like shaped protein. This can be found in the brains of people who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and also 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 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 to strengthen the connections in your brain as well as 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.
The Importance of Knowing About Progressive Dementia
Progressive dementia can be a scary condition. But by knowing what it is, what it’s symptoms are, and how to prevent it, we can be better prepared should it enter our lives somehow.
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