Distinguishing Between Types Of Dementia
For physicians and families intent on pinning down a diagnosis, one major complicating factor is the existence of so many kinds of dementia. More than 50 conditions can mimic or cause dementia.
Alzheimers disease is by far the most common intractable condition. But other causes of irreversible dementia include blood vessel disease vascular dementia), other degenerative disorders , slow-growing brain tumors, or infections of the central nervous system .
In some types of dementia, treatment will improve mental functioning, and in a small percentage, the dementia is completely reversible if treatment begins before permanent brain damage occurs. Thats why it is important to report to a doctor any signs of dementia as early as possible.
What Are The Normal Signs Of Ageing
As people get older, they are likely to notice some changes in their mental abilities. These could include:
- becoming a little more forgetful
- taking a bit longer to remember things
- getting distracted more easily
- finding it harder to do several things at once.
This may become noticeable particularly from middle age usually meaning our 40s, 50s and early 60s.
Though these changes can be frustrating, they are a natural part of ageing. Many people worry that these are early signs of dementia. For most people, this is not the case.
Memory And New Information
|Possible signs of Alzheimers disease or vascular dementia|
Forgetting something you were told a while ago
Forgetting something you were only recently told. You may ask for the same information repeatedly for example, ‘Are the doors locked?’
Misplacing things from time to time for example, your phone, glasses or the TV remote but retracing steps to find them
Putting objects in unusual places for example, putting your house keys in the bathroom cabinet
Taking longer to work out new tasks, such as how to set up and use a new appliance or device
Being unable to learn new tasks, like setting up and using a new appliance or device
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Can You Have Alzheimer’s And Other Types Of Dementia At The Same Time
Yes, it is possible to have Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia at the same time. This is known as ‘mixed dementia’. Read more about mixed dementia in our guide to types of dementia.
Live-in care provides round-the-clock support for people who need help to live independently. There is specialist live-in care available for people with dementia. Read our guide to 10 of the best live-in care providers to find out more.
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Memory Loss Risk Factors
Before we break down the different kinds of memory loss, its helpful to go over risk factors. The biggest risk factor is age all older adults are at risk of developing memory issues . Other factors include:
- High blood pressure
While meeting one or more of these conditions doesnt mean someone is guaranteed to get dementia, it does indicate theyre at a higher risk .
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Is my memory loss normal for my age?
- What is causing my memory loss?
- Are there any medications that can help with the disorder causing my loss?
- Will my memory get better or worse over time?
- How can my family and friends help me?
- Are there therapies or cognitive rehabilitation that would be appropriate for my memory loss?
- Can you recommend mental health resources like a psychiatrist and therapist ?
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Difference Between Amnesia And Dementia
Dementia and amnesia are two separate mental disorders that have similar symptoms. And its because of this that its tough to diagnose. These are not the same, despite having a similar symptom. There are some differences between the two.
Amnesia and Dementia must be diagnosed in order for the patient to receive correct care. Even if both dementia and amnesia induce memory loss, they are two distinct illnesses with distinct therapies.
The first one is a treatable disorder that results from brain damage. The illness can lead to major problems if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly. Patients have problems remembering events from the past and acquiring new knowledge. They can, nevertheless, recall fundamental abilities.
The second is a permanent condition Dementia is a brain disease that causes progressive memory loss. Both current and distant memories are affected by the disorder. The patients memory or capacity to transmit knowledge may be affected in some situations.
It can, however, cause a patients social and vocational abilities to deteriorate, as well as difficulty recognizing individuals and personality changes.
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Populations At Risk For Alzheimers
Scientists say Alzheimers has no single cause. Rather, multiple factors likely make an individual at risk for the disease, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
- The most significant risk factor by far is age. Most individuals with Alzheimers are 65 or older.
- Family history is another factor. Those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimers are more likely to have it themselves.
- In rare cases, Alzheimers may be linked to deterministic genes . This is true in fewer than 1% of Alzheimers cases.
- Those who sustain head injuries are at greater risk of developing Alzheimers in the future.
- Those who have cardiovascular diseases are also at higher risk for Alzheimers.
Research also shows that older Latinx people are about one and a half times more likely to have Alzheimers than older white people. Black people are twice as likely to have it as white people.
A Note About Unproven Treatments
Some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures” that claim to make the brain sharper or prevent dementia. Be cautious of pills, supplements, brain training computer games, or other products that promise to improve memory or prevent brain disorders. These might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments. Currently there is no drug or treatment that prevents Alzheimer’s or related dementias.
However, there are currently several drugs available by prescription to safely treat the symptoms of early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, your doctor may suggest that you take one of them.
How to protect yourself and others from unproven treatments:
- Beware if the product claim seems too promising and if it conflicts with what youve heard from your health care provider.
- Question any product that claims to be a scientific breakthrough. Companies marketing these products often take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable and looking for a miracle cure.
- Check with your doctor or health care professional before buying any product, including those labeled as dietary supplements, that promises to improve your memory or prevent dementia.
- Report any products or supplements being advertised as a treatment for Alzheimer’s or other diseases on the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations website.
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It’s Not Necessarily Alzheimer’s
More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia, and a small percentage of dementias are reversible. Two common examples are dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid . Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have, because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated.
How Is Amnesia Treated
There is no pill that can cure amnesia. However, amnesia can improve as the brain heals in some conditions. When memory loss is persistent, there are skills you can learn to compensate.
Cognitive rehabilitation involves teaching new skills to patients with anterograde amnesia. These might include organizational strategies or compensatory technology . Success varies. Occupational therapists often perform cognitive rehabilitation. Occupational therapists also help your family and friends cope with their role as caregivers.
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Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s
Memory often changes as people grow older. Some people notice changes in themselves before anyone else does. For other people, friends and family are the first to see changes in memory, behavior, or abilities. Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. People with one or more of these 10 warning signs should see a doctor to find the cause. Early diagnosis gives them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, repeating yourself or relying on more aids to help you remember .
2.Challenges in planning or solving problems: having trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
3.Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure: having problems with cooking, driving places, using a cell phone, or shopping.
4.Confusion with time or place: having trouble understanding an event that is happening later, or losing track of dates.
5.Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations: having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimers Association have created the Healthy Brain Initiatives State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map.
8. being a victim of a scam, not managing money well, paying less attention to hygiene, or having trouble taking care of a pet.
How Is Dementia Different From Normal Ageing
Dementia is a group of symptoms. Its caused by different diseases that damage the brain.
The symptoms of dementia get worse over time and include:
- confusion and needing help with daily tasks
- problems with language and understanding
- changes in behaviour.
When a person has dementia, this worsening in mental abilities is much more serious than the normal changes that people experience as they get older.
The changes may be small to start with, but become more noticeable. For a health professional to diagnose dementia, a person’s symptoms must be significantly affecting their daily life. This means having difficulties with completing daily tasks about the house, in the community or at work.
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Tips To Help With Normal Age
As a person ages, it becomes more likely that they may develop some form of memory loss. Age-associated memory impairment is the mildest form of memory loss that can occur as a result of due to the aging process. Its characterized by a self-perception of the memory loss with a decline in memory test scores when compared to younger adults. In the United States, approximately 40 percent of people aged 65 and older will experience age-associated memory impairment however, only around one percent of those individuals will develop dementia.
Mild cognitive impairment , the next phase of memory loss, is more severe than age-associated memory impairment. Its characterized by memory loss without functional impairments. Individuals with MCI can still live independently, but they show memory impairments that are comparable to persons with very mild Alzheimers disease. Approximately ten percent of persons age 65 and older have MCI. Almost 15 percent of these individuals will later develop Alzheimers disease.
With these statistics, its easy to see how important it is to do all you can to cope with normal age-associated memory impairments. Tips for coping include:
Its important to remember that having trouble remembering things, such as forgetting a persons name, doesnt necessarily mean you are getting dementia. Memory loss related to Alzheimers disease and dementia disrupts daily life and routines affecting memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
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Find Out More About Dementia Vs Alzheimers
For additional information on dementia vs. Alzheimers, consider these resources:
- Take a closer look at the distinctions between dementia and Alzheimers.
- WebMD, What Is Dementia? Dig deeper into dementias causes, as well as its common symptoms.
- Mayo Clinic, Alzheimers Disease. Gain additional insight into the causes and symptoms of Alzheimers.
How To Understand The Difference And Why It Matters
by Kathleen Fifield, AARP, Updated June 15, 2020
Doctors usually rely on observation and ruling out other factors to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
En español | The terms dementia and Alzheimers have been around for more than a century, which means people have likely been mixing them up for that long, too. But knowing the difference is important. In the simplest terms, one is broader than the other. If the two were nesting dolls, Alzheimers would fit inside dementia, but not the other way around. While Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia , there are several other types. The second most common form, vascular dementia, has a very different cause namely, high blood pressure. Other types of dementia include alcohol-related dementia, Parkinsons dementia and frontotemporal dementia each has different causes as well. In addition, certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia.
A correct diagnosis means the right medicines, remedies and support. For example, knowing that you have Alzheimers instead of another type of dementia might lead to a prescription for a cognition-enhancing drug instead of an antidepressant. Finally, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimers if youve been specifically diagnosed with the disease.
Read Also: What Is Early Onset Dementia Called
Health Care Costs For Alzheimers
Alzheimers has no known cure. People with advanced Alzheimers or dementia symptoms often benefit from specialized memory care facilities, where they can receive around-the-clock support from specialized caregivers. According to an article from AARP, the average cost of memory care is $5,000 per month.
Medicare and Medicare Advantage typically wont pay for room and board in memory care facilities, but they often will cover the cost of medical treatments and nursing care.
Do Patients With Amnesia Lose Their Motor Skills
Motor skills are nondeclarative. People with amnesia dont lose learned motor skills skills that require coordinated movement of muscles. Just like riding a bike is an old saying that means the learned activity is second nature easy to remember and repeat. In fact, studies by neurologists have proven that people with amnesia learn motor skills at the same rate as healthy individuals.
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How Does Memory Loss Affect A Person With Dementia
People with dementia often experience memory loss. This is because dementia is caused by damage to the brain, and this damage can affect areas of the brain involved in creating and retrieving memories.
For a person with dementia, memory problems will become more persistent and will begin to affect everyday life. This can be difficult to cope with, both for the person themselves and for the people around them.
However, there are ways to help a person with dementia manage their memory problems and stay independent for longer.
Read our free bookletRead our free booklet .
For straightforward advice and practical tips written directly for the person with memory loss, get a copy of our free booklet called The Memory Handbook.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Amnesia
You can reduce your risk of the symptoms by reducing your risk for related diseases. Always wear protective equipment like a seat belt when youre in a vehicle, a helmet when youre bicycling and playing sports, and sturdy shoes to keep yourself from falling, etc. Research suggests that you can reduce your risk of developing diseases like Alzheimers with lifestyle choices:
- Exercising. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training may be beneficial.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet. The Mediterranean diet is highly recommended.
- Staying mentally active. Take a class and break out the crossword puzzles.
- Getting plenty of sleep. Treat your insomnia and sleep apnea.
- Stopping smoking. Theres evidence that shows that smoking increases your risk of cognitive decline.
- Staying in touch with loved ones. Your social well-being is important just like your physical well-being.
- Managing stress. Get treatment if you have symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Protecting your heart by losing weight, lowering your blood pressure and managing your diabetes.
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What Can I Expect If I Have Amnesia
Amnesia can last hours, days, months or even longer. Your individual outcome is best predicted by your healthcare provider who has examined you and determined the cause and the severity of your amnesia. People with amnesia generally have to rely on family and friends to fill in the gaps in their memory and function in daily life.
How Is Amnesia Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider may assess your memory through talking with you and observing how well you encode information they give you or how well you can recall past information. They may consult with people who know you to find out how your memory works in daily life. They may also refer you for formal memory testing, called a Neuropsychological evaluation.
To determine the cause of amnesia, your provider may order blood tests to check vitamin B1 levels, B12 levels and thyroid hormones. They may order imaging tests, such as an MRI or computed tomography scan to look for signs of brain damage, such as brain tumors or stroke. An EEG may be ordered to check for seizure activity. A spinal tap may be ordered to check for brain infections as a cause of the memory loss.