Page 5 - Miles for Memories Dementia Booklet 2022
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important to note that not everyone with these brain changes develops dementia. Signs of mild Alzheimer’s disease – In
mild Alzheimer’s, a person may seem healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around them. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and their family.
Signs of moderate Alzheimer’s disease – In this stage, more intensive supervision and care become necessary. Changes and increasing needs can be difficult for many spouses and families.
Signs of severe Alzheimer’s disease – People with severe Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and are completely depen- dent on others for their care. Near the end of life, the person may be in bed most or all of the time as their body shuts down.
Another common type of dementia is vascular dementia, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the dementia cases. Vascular dementia refers to changes in memory, thinking, and behavior result- ing from conditions that affect the blood vessels in the brain. Cognition and brain function can be significantly affected by the size, location, and number of vascular changes. Vascular dementia is more com- mon in men than women. Typical age of diagnosis is generally over 65.
Symptoms of vascular dementia can begin gradually or can occur suddenly,
and then progress over time, with possible short periods of improvement. Vascular dementia can occur alone or be a part of
a different diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. When an individual is diagnosed with vascular dementia, their symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Vascular dementia is caused by different conditions that interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen supply to the brain and dam- age blood vessels in the brain.
People with vascular dementia almost always have abnormalities in the brain that can be seen on MRI scans. These abnormal- ities can include evidence of prior strokes, which are often small and sometimes with- out noticeable symptoms. Major strokes can also increase the risk for dementia, but not everyone who has had a stroke will develop dementia.
Research has shown a strong link be- tween cardiovascular disease, involving the heart and blood vessels, and cerebrovascu- lar disease, involving the brain, and subse- quent cognitive impairment and dementia.
Lewy Body dementia is characterized by fluctuations in alertness and atten- tion, recurrent visual hallucinations, and Parkinsonian motor symptoms like rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement
as well as a shuffling gait and tremors. In this disorder, cognitive problems such as hallucinations tend to occur much earlier in the course of the disease and often precede the difficulties with walking and motor control. Lewy Bodies dementia can also exhibit as thinking problems as well as memory loss. It can be confused with Parkinson’s disease.
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common types of dementia.
LBD affects more than one million individuals in the United States. People typically show symptoms at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have LBD. LBD appears to affect slightly more men than women.
Diagnosing LBD can be challenging. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases or in psychiatric disorders. Lewy body dementia can occur alone or along with other brain disorders.
It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of five to eight years from the time of diagnosis to death, but can range from two to 20 years for some people. How quickly symptoms develop and change varies greatly from person to person, depending on overall health, age, and severity of symptoms.
In the early stages of LBD, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more help due to a de- cline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they often depend entirely on others for assistance and care.
Some LBD symptoms may respond to treatment for a period of time. Currently, there is no cure for the disease. Research is improving our understanding of this chal- lenging condition, and advances in science may one day lead to better diagnosis, improved care, and new treatments.
There is a relationship between
Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Dementia is a less common feature of Parkinson’s disease. A number of people with Parkinson’s disease will develop Par- kinson’s disease dementia, but not all. For those patients with Parkinson’s disease who go on to develop dementia, there can be a 10- to 15-year lag time between their Parkinson’s diagnosis and the onset of dementia. Parkinson’s disease dementia is different from Lewy Body dementia (or dementia with Lewy Bodies).
Frontal Lobe dementia is sometimes called Pick’s disease, aphasia, or Fronto- temporal dementia. Frontotemporal de- mentia (FTD), a common cause of demen- tia, is a group of disorders that occur when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. This causes the lobes to shrink. FTD can affect behavior, personality, language, and movement.
It is marked by changes in personality or behavior such as a lack of inhibition, aggressiveness, apathy, loss of empathy, etc. Changes in judgment are subtle at first but can become disabling as the disease progresses.
These disorders are among the most common dementias that strike at younger ages. Symptoms typically start between the ages of 40 and 65, but FTD can strike young adults and those who are older. FTD affects men and women equally.
The most common types of FTD include frontal variant, which affects behavior and personality, and primary progres- sive aphasia. Aphasia means difficulty communicating. This form has two subtypes including progressive nonfluent aphasia, which affects the ability to speak, and semantic dementia, which affects the ability to use and understand language. A less common form of FTD affects move- ment, causing symptoms similar to Parkin- son disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Pathologic evidence shows that the brain changes of several types of dementia can be present simultaneously. When any two
or more types of dementia are present at the same time, the individual is considered to have “mixed dementia.”
Credit: National Institutes on Health, National Institute on Aging,; Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkins; Mayo Clinic,
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