Defining Dementia and Caring for People Living With It
What is dementia?
Dementia usually results from nerve damage in various areas of the brain and leads to deficiencies in memory, thinking, concentration and social interaction. It normally occurs in people over the age of 65, but younger people can be affected, as well. The term “dementia” is a general term capturing different kinds of degenerative brain diseases. The most common forms of dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD) involves “clumps” and “tangles” of proteins found in brains of those with Alzheimer’s (beta-amyloid and tau protein, respectively). People living with Alzheimer’s have difficulties with memory, thinking, and exercising judgment.
- Vascular dementia occurs when brain cells have died because they have been deprived of oxygen. A series of small strokes or one large stroke normally contribute to oxygen deprivation and cellular death in the brain.
- Lewy body dementia (LBD) includes both Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. LBD occurs when proteins called alpha-synuclein, or “Lewy bodies,” accumulate in the brain and interfere with chemical processes. Visual hallucinations, decreased cognitive ability, slowness or difficulty in moving (related to Parkinson’s) are just some symptoms of LBD.
- Frontotemporal dementia results from damage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Damage to this region of the brain may lead to further degeneration and atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes. As a result, a person living with this form of dementia experiences behavior and personality changes along with impairments in thinking and speech.
It is also possible for individuals to exhibit a mixture of several dementias. This form of dementia is called mixed dementia.
One of the challenges of dementia lies not just with the affliction itself but how to care for the person living with dementia. Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and financially draining. An exhaustive caregiving guide cannot be given here but great resources do exist. If you would like more resources on caring for someone with dementia or how to cope with personality/behavioral changes, memory loss, or communication obstacles, then please visit Elder Care at Home’s blog for tips and advice. Additionally, you can visit the National Institute on Aging’s website for more information on caregiving.
To see more information about dementia and its forms, click here.
Also see Mayo Clinic’s link which provided some of the information for this article.
If you have more questions, then call ElderCare at Home at (561) 585-0400 or email us below.