What is Dementia?
April 15, 2019
Dementia, many people heard about it but what does dementia means?
Is it contagious? If I get old will I suffer from it?
Many of us ask these questions, so let’s try to answer it.
Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, social abilities, language skills, ability to focus and pay attention, ability to reason and problem-solve, visual perception, losing track of the time, becoming lost in familiar places.
Dementia develops when the parts of brain that are involved with learning, memory, decision-making, and language are affected by any of various infections or diseases.
Dementia affects people differently, depending on the area of the brain affected.
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an unavoidable consequence of ageing.
Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people-young onset dementia (defined as the onset of symptoms before the age of 65 years) accounts up to 9% of cases.
Some research has shown a relationship between the development of cognitive impairment and life-style related risk factors that are shared with other no communicable diseases (physical inactivity, obesity, unhealthy diets, tobacco, diabetes, harmful use of alcohol, midlife hypertension, depression, low educational achievement, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity).
Who gets dementia?
Dementia is considered a late-life disease because it tends to develop mostly in elderly people. About 5% to 8% of all people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia, and this number doubles every five years above that age. It is estimated that as many as half of people 85 or older suffer from dementia.
Types of dementias that progress and aren’t reversible include:
Alzheimer’s disease- is the most common cause of dementia
Vascular dementia- second most common type of dementia
Lewy body dementia- this is one of the most common types of progressive dementia
Frontotemporal dementia- areas most affected are associated with personality, behaviour and language
Mixed dementia- mostly affected is the brains of the people that are 80 and older-it is a combination of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.
Other disorders that are linked to dementia:
Huntington’s disease, Traumatic brain injury, Crautzfeld-Jakob disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Many factors can eventually lead to dementia. Some factors can’t be change, like age – however dementia isn’t a normal part of aging and can occur in younger people.
But you can take a few steps that might help:
- Keep your mind active – stimulate your brain, read a books or newspapers, play a word games, memory training might delay the onset of dementia and decrease its effects
- Quit smoking – might reduce your risk and will improve your health
- Lower your blood pressure – treating high blood pressure may reduce the risk of dementia
- Be physically and socially active – move more and be involve in social interactions
- Get enough vitamin D – you can get vitamin D through certain foods, supplements and sun exposure
- Maintain a healthy diet – Mediterranean diet which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids might promote health and lower your risk of developing dementia
The need for more public awareness and research funding
While the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia are clear to families dealing with the diseases, more public awareness is needed.
Further understanding of what exactly causes dementia will help to clear any confusion and hopefully lead to better treatments plans and ultimately – a cure.
By Alicja Cabel
(Next article – dementia stages)BACK TO NEWS