Around 55 million people in the world have dementia. This condition is a broad category that includes many types of dementia. Understanding this disease and its many types will help educate family members and their loved ones and ensure they seek medical care right away if they develop symptoms. Those who suffer from dementia may benefit highly from memory care services after diagnosis, such as assisted living for memory care communities..
What Are the Symptoms of Dementia?
Dementia causes a loss of cognitive function. Although this disease primarily affects those over the age of sixty-five, younger people can also get dementia. The following are some of the warning signs of dementia. Should a person notice any of these symptoms, they need to seek medical care right away to determine if they have any of the types of dementia.
- Pronounced memory loss
- Frequent confusion
- Trouble handling responsibilities
- Difficulty speaking and understanding speech
- Forgetting the names of common objects
- Frequently getting lost in familiar areas
- Experiencing delusions or paranoia
- Repeating the same questions
- Loss of interest in things once loved
- A lack of care about others’ feelings
- Loss of balance and coordination
When the first signs of dementia appear, individuals may not realize there is a problem. Others will often notice problems before the sufferer does. Should individuals realize they have any of the above symptoms, they need to speak with their doctor.
Kinds of Dementia
Multiple types of dementia plague older individuals. It is important to note that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. The following are some of the common types of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia. Around 60 to 70% of all dementia sufferers have Alzheimer’s disease. This form of dementia is caused by amyloid plaques that develop in the brain.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include impairments in memory, spatial concepts, and language. Most people are diagnosed after the age of 60, but early-onset forms of the disease can occur early in life.
Vascular dementia makes up about 10 to 20% of all dementia cases. This disease is caused by injuries to the blood vessels that supply the brain. The primary symptoms of vascular dementia include impaired judgment and motor skills.
Frontotemporal dementia makes up about 10% of all cases of dementia. This disease is caused by damage done to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia include problems with language and changes in personality.
Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is one of the least common types of dementia, affecting only around 5% of people. This type of dementia is caused by Lewy body deposits that develop in the brain. Individuals who develop Lewy body dementia may have hallucinations, disrupted sleep, and impaired mental function.
Other dementias only make up around 5% of all cases of dementia. The following are some of the types of dementia that are labeled in the other dementia category. The types include Parkinson’s disease, HIV, Huntington’s disease, and Korsakoff syndrome.
How Is Dementia Diagnosed?
Diagnosing dementia takes a concerted effort. Although it is fairly easy to diagnose dementia as a broad category, it becomes more difficult to establish the exact type. It is important to note that dementia cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Multiple tests will likely be necessary.
The doctor will review the individual’s medical history and symptoms. They will also conduct a thorough physical examination. The following are some of the common tests used for diagnosis.
- Neurological testing will measure memory, attention span, problem-solving, senses, and balance, among others.
- CT scans and MRIs are also used to help diagnose different types of dementia since they can show changes to the vessels and lobes of the brain.
- PET scans will reveal different types of protein plaques in the brain.
- Laboratory tests are also beneficial for diagnosing dementia and ruling out other conditions that may mimic dementia.
- Part of the diagnosis process will also involve psychiatric evaluations. These evaluations allow health professionals to determine if depression is playing a role in the symptoms being experienced by the individual.
The sooner dementia is diagnosed the less damage occurs to the brain. Individuals should not ignore the symptoms of possible dementia. Getting prompt treatment can slow down the progression of all types of dementia.
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