Ten Facts You Didn't Know About Alzheimer’s And Dementia
By: Patricia Oelze
Updated October 03, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Melinda Santa
Dementia is a growing concern in our world, and almost half of the adults in the United States have dementia. The statistics show there are 50 million people around the world that have dementia. Also, every year, there are an additional 10 million people diagnosed with dementia. With the growing number of people affected, it is important that everyone be familiar with the symptoms, causes, and issues that come with it.
- Dementia Is Just A Symptom Of Alzheimer's
Dementia is not a disease in itself; it is just a term that describes a specific group of symptoms. These symptoms involve declining memory and thinking skills. Some of the dementia symptoms include:
- Difficulty following television shows or books
- Losing the skills to do daily tasks
- Withdrawal from others
- Changes in behavior
- Trouble concentrating
- Getting confused more often
- Forgetting recent events
Alzheimer's is a type of dementia, but there are other types as well. However, Alzheimer's is a disease, and dementia is just one of its symptoms. Some other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are:
- Forgetting important things
- Inability to get dressed properly
- Lack of hygiene care
- Inability to manage money
- Cannot do everyday tasks like cooking or cleaning
- Losing their train of thought
- Trouble finding the right words to use
- Rapid mood swings and agitation
- Not eating right
- Cannot tell directions and distances
- Getting lost often
- Trouble starting activities
- Forgetting how to behave around others
- Lack of attention
- The Causes Of Dementia
There are many different diseases that can begin the onset of dementia. However, it is the degradation of cells in the brain that cause the condition. Whether it is from biological or external causes, cell damage is the specific reason for it. The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases for those who:
- Have diabetes
- Are depressed
- Abuse alcohol or drugs
- Smoke cigarettes
- Have untreated high blood pressure during middle age
- Are obese or overweight
- Does Alzheimer's Disease Affect Women More than Men?
The Alzheimer's Association found reports that nearly 66% of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease are female. However, many experts claim this does not mean that women are more susceptible as experts believe that it is because women live longer than men. Therefore, more women are living with Alzheimer's disease than men because there are more women over the age of 65 than there are men. But many studies are being done that have found this to be false as they are finding that women are more susceptible to the disease because of genetics or lifestyles.
- Young People Can Get Alzheimer's Too
Although we often think of Alzheimer's disease as an elderly disorder, approximately 5% of those with the disease are suffering from We may think of Alzheimer's as a disease of the elderly, but up to 5% of Americans with Alzheimer's (around 200,000) have the early-onset variety, in which the symptoms can start as early as age 30. The cause of this disease in young people is unknown, but many experts believe that it is genetic. Also, with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, the symptoms may be different. These early-onset Alzheimer's symptoms include:
- Personality changes
- Paranoia, anxiety, depression
- Avoiding others
- Impulsive behavior
- Poor judgement
- Vision problems such as color and distances
- Trouble remembering things you just did
- Losing things
- Not completing tasks
- Problems remembering things just learned
- Getting lost
- Inability to make decisions
Although these symptoms may seem like the early warning signs of Alzheimer's or dementia, there are differences. For one, you are much younger than the typical patient with the disease. Also, since you are working and socializing more, the symptoms may be seen earlier.
- Types Of Dementia
There are many different types of dementia, but Alzheimer's disease is the most common type. In fact, Alzheimer's is the cause of up to 80% of dementia cases, which is why they so often mixed up with each other or mistaken for one another. The different types include:
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a disorder of the brain caused by a vitamin deficiency such as thiamine or Vitamin B1.
- Huntington's Disease, or Huntington's Chorea, is an inherited disease that causes mental, emotional, and physical symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease.
- Parkinson's Disease is a common progressive degenerative disease of the nervous system that causes the nerve cells to die or break down. It typically starts with tremors in one or both hands.
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or Hakim's Syndrome, is a form of dementia that is caused by cerebral fluid building up in the brain.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a rare brain disease that progresses faster than any of the other types of dementia.
- Frontotemporal Dementia is another rare disease. This one typically affects the parts of the brain that control behavior, personality, and language.
- Lewy Body Dementia is a disease caused by deposits of alpha-synuclein, which is a protein that affects the chemicals in the brain. The signs are similar to Alzheimer's disease with more frequent hallucinations and delusions.
- Vascular Dementia is caused by a decrease in blood flow in the brain that kills cells. The most common cause of vascular dementia is when a stroke blocks an artery in the brain.
- Mixed Dementia is characterized by someone having more than one type of dementia at the same time. For example, those with Alzheimer's disease can also have Lewy Body Dementia.
- Gardening Can Help
Studies have found that patients with any type of dementia can benefit from spending time in a garden. They do not have to be tending the garden, and it does not even have to be their garden for it to help them. In fact, just walking along a public garden or park can be calming and relaxing. Many small studies have been done in the past decade in America as well as other countries that show a positive correlation between garden therapy and dementia. The patients' levels of agitation and anxiety were decreased after spending time in a garden, and they claim to find it relaxing.
- Medications For Dementia
Some medications commonly prescribed for dementia can be incredibly effective for dementia. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and dementia, there are some medications that can help, such as memantine, which is a drug that regulates glutamate in your brain. Also, cholinesterase inhibitors are used to boost a person's memory by increasing important chemicals in the brain needed for memory. However, some types of dementia are not treated in the same way. For example, vascular dementia is treated by treating the cause of the disease, which is typically high blood pressure or thyroid disease.
- Is There A Link Between Hearing Loss And Dementia?
In the past few years, there have been many studies done about whether there is a link between dementia and hearing loss. Some of these have found that those with hearing loss are at a much higher risk of developing dementia. This may be an important finding as the experts try to determine the cause of these links and find ways to treat hearing loss earlier. Experts believe that if hearing loss is treated right away, the chances of getting dementia is decreased.
- It Is More Than Just Memory Loss
Although dementia typically starts by affecting the patient's short-term memory, many other significant symptoms can affect them. And it does often start by affecting short-term memory. Dementia also causes problems with speech, thinking, and coordination. It also affects their behavior, feelings, and emotions. Alzheimer's disease dementia is the most common type of dementia, and although it starts as forgetfulness, it progresses to other issues such as sleeping, eating, and making decisions. Alzheimer's disease causes your brain to shrink, which affects more than just your memory. Other common symptoms include:
- Changes in mood such as sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and loss of self-confidence
- Trouble determining distances or spatial issues
- Difficulties with speaking and remembering the correct words for things
- Struggling with day-to-day activities like bathing, dressing, and cooking
- Problems with thinking things through or planning
- Unable to manage money
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Cannot follow the storyline in television shows or movies
- Isolating yourself or withdrawal from family and friends
- Caregivers Are More Susceptible To Depression
Because caregivers go through an immense amount of stress and aggravation daily when caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, they are more susceptible to getting overwhelmed. It is not uncommon for those caring for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer's disease to become depressed or suffer from anxiety attacks. There is a great deal of stress and pressure on caregivers and not much reward, especially in the later stages of these conditions.
Even though you have a close relationship with the person with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it is difficult to deal with the symptoms such as incontinence, agitation, and violent mood swings. Your emotions can get in the way of caring for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease as well. It is so much easier to give in to those we love to make them happy even if it is not in their best interest. It is important for you, as a caregiver, to get professional advice when you need it and BetterHelp can provide the help you need. You don't even need an appointment.