What is Dementia?
Dementia does not refer to a specific disease, rather, it refers to a wide variety of symptoms. These systems signal a decline in memory or other thinking skills that can be severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform daily activities. There are many conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies, but two dementia types account for most cases. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia can occur after a stroke and is the second most common type of dementia.
It is a popular belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. Some people with memory loss problems do not have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. There are many causes, so if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms, visit your doctor to learn the cause. Some cases of dementia-like symptoms can be treated and reversed.
Symptoms of Dementia:
Symptoms vary from person to person, but a least two of the following core mental functions must be impaired to be considered a form of dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgement
- Visual perception
Most dementias are progressive. This means that symptoms start out slowly and eventually start to get worse. Early diagnosis helps provide an opportunity to get the maximum benefit from available treatments as well as providing time to plan for the future.
What Causes Dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. The region of the brain called the hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory. The cells in this area are often the first to be damaged, that’s why memory loss is one of the first symptoms. Most changes in the brain are permanent and gradually get worse, but memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is addressed or treated:
- Excess use of alcohol
- Thyroid problems
- Medication side effects
- Vitamin deficiencies