Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Dementia Terms You May Hear
- Alzheimers disease: the most common type of dementia, caused by clumps of proteins building up in the brain.
- Mild cognitive impairment: this can happen after a stroke. This is when someone has memory and thinking problems but they are not severe enough to interfere with their day-to-day activities.
- Other types of dementia: you may hear about dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and young-onset dementia, as well as other rarer types.
- Small vessel disease: damage to the blood vessels deep inside the brain, often caused by high blood pressure.
- Vascular cognitive impairment: this describes all memory and thinking problems associated with stroke. It includes vascular dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
- Vascular dementia: problems with memory and thinking due to reduced blood flow in your brain.
Key Features Of Dementia
A person having dementia means that all five of the following statements are true:
- A person is having difficulty with one or more types of mental function. Although its common for memory to be affected, other parts of thinking function can be impaired. The 2013 DSM-5 manual lists these six types of cognitive function to consider: learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor function, social cognition.
- The difficulties are a decline from the persons prior level of ability. These cant be lifelong problems with reading or math or even social graces. These problems should represent a change, compared to the persons usual abilities as an adult.
- The problems are bad enough to impair daily life function. Its not enough for a person to have an abnormal result on an office-based cognitive test. The problems also have to be substantial enough to affect how the person manages usual life, such as work and family responsibilities.
- The problems are not due to a reversible condition, such as delirium, or another reversible illness. Common conditions that can cause or worsen dementia-like symptoms include hypothyroidism, depression, and medication side-effects.
- The problems arent better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia.
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How To Prevent Infections
Preventing infection for a person with any cognitive impairment may prove difficult. They may lack the ability to practice proper hygiene.
You can help by:
- making sure they stay vaccinated against the flu each year
- vaccinating yourself as well
- having everybody wash hands and sanitize upon entering the home
- washing and sanitizing your loved ones hands regularly
- offer them fluids frequently to encourage proper hydration
Even in the early stages of dementia, little tasks like hand washing might slip their mind. If you cannot always be around during the earlier stages, keeping reminder signs near sinks can help.
If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia
Lets say youre like the man I spoke to recently, and youre worried that an older parent might have dementia. Youre planning to have a doctor assess your parent. Heres how you can help the process along:
- Obtain copies of your parents medical information, so you can bring them to the dementia evaluation visit. The most useful information to bring is laboratory results and any imaging of the brain, such as CAT scans or MRIs. See this post for a longer list of medical information that is very helpful to bring to a new doctor.
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Tips For Dementia Care
Dementia can be challenging for both patients and caregivers but knowing what to expect can help ease the journey. Caregivers may not be able to anticipate the level of dementia on a daily basis, but they can be prepared to manage the varying symptoms of dementia as they progress.
The different stages of dementia require different degrees of caregiving. 2 With mild dementia, people may still be able to function independently, however, theyll experience memory lapses that affect daily life, such as forgetting words or where things are located.
People experiencing moderate dementia will likely need more assistance in their daily lives as it becomes harder for them to perform daily activities and self-care. They may hallucinate, get lost easily and forget where they are, and not remember what day of the week it is.
Someone with severe dementia will likely lose their ability to communicate and need full-time daily assistance with tasks such as eating and dressing. They may not remember their own name or the names of others. Physical activity and ability may be seriously impaired and they may be more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia.
Signs Of Vascular Dementia
If you or the people around you notice any of the signs below, you should visit your GP:
- Not being able to understand or respond to things very quickly.
- Not being able to remember things.
- Finding it difficult to concentrate.
- Not being able to find the right word when youre speaking.
- Struggling to plan ahead for everyday tasks.
- Difficulty in learning new tasks
- Seeming down or depressed.
At a later stage, signs may include:
- Becoming confused.
- Behaving differently, especially if youre being aggressive or behaving inappropriately.
- Lacking motivation.
- Not being able to control your emotions.
- Finding it difficult to walk and keep your balance.
- Having problems controlling your bladder.
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What Happens In Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia can cause different symptoms depending on where the blood vessels are damaged in the brain. For example, a person who had a stroke may have sudden problems with memory, balance, or speech. However, a person can have several strokes that may be unnoticeably small, but the damage can add up over time.
Many people with vascular dementia have trouble with memory. Others may have difficulty with organization and solving complex problems, slowed thinking, or being easily distracted. People with vascular dementia may also have changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability, loss of interest, or depression.
Sometimes, people with vascular dementia have trouble with balance and movement. This might include weakness on one side of the body, and the symptoms may get worse over time.
Movement Problems And Lewy Body Dementia
Some people with LBD may not experience significant movement problems for several years. Others may have them early on. At first, movement symptoms, such as a change in handwriting, may be very mild and easily overlooked. Movement problems may include:
- Muscle rigidity or stiffness
You Struggle To Learn New Things
It can be tough to learn new skills, but people with dementia often have a particularly difficult time. If you have early-onset dementia, Zwerling says you might struggle with things like learning how to use a new tool, or when developing a new skill.
You might also notice that you’re suddenly struggling to work with numbers, or that you can’t easily develop or follow a plan. If these traits have always been part of your personality, then you probably don’t have to worry. But don’t hesitate to get more information about your health should these things seem out of the ordinary, or if they start to negatively impact your day.
What We Know About Dementia
The National Institute on Aging says that dementia affects approximately 3.4 million Americans, or 13.9 percent, of the U.S. population ages 71 and older and is usually caused by brain damage associated with Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia or Parkinsons disease. And in Canada, the number of people living with dementia is expected to rise 66% by the time we reach 2031.
It is important to differentiate the various types of dementia for about 70% of patients, a diagnosis of dementia will be accompanied by a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, Alzheimers and dementia are not one in the same. Dementia is a loss of brain function that refers to a group of illnesses.
Although dementia may be a symptom of Alzheimers, it may have other underlying causes, such as Picks disease, hypothyroidism or head trauma. While Alzheimers is the leading cause of dementia, vascular dementia, which is often caused by stroke, accounts for about 17% of all dementia cases.
While people will experience dementia differently, most people with dementia share some of the same symptoms that may come and go.
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Could It Be Rapidly Progressive Dementia
RPD can be difficult to diagnose. However, accurately diagnosing these conditions is critical in order to identify any treatable causes and protect against further brain cell damage. An early hospital assessment by a specialist can help pick up problems so that, where available, appropriate treatment can be initiated. Cancers, infections, toxins and autoimmune conditions could all cause a fast decline in mental function, as well as the more common neurodegenerative causes of dementia such as Alzheimers, strokes and Parkinsons disease.
The Facts Of Rapid Onset Dementia Life Expectancy
Dementia refers to a group of conditions characterized by the loss of cognitive functioning, such as memory, thinking, and reasoning. For some individuals with this disease, the progression is slow, taking years to reach an advanced stage. However, for others, dementia can develop and progress rapidly. The speed of progression primarily depends on the underlying cause of the disease. If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with rapid onset dementia, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of the future. Learn more about the rapid onset dementia life expectancy and what steps you should take.
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You’re Suddenly Bad At Making Decisions
Indecisiveness isn’t always a sign of dementia. Some folks just aren’t good at making up their mind, and that’s OK. But a sudden inability to plan and organize, in a way that negatively impacts your life, may indicate a problem with your “executive function.”
As Dr. Fillit says, “This covers our ability to plan, organize, focus, and reason. You might find it difficult to make decisions or to focus enough to complete tasks with multiple steps, such as cooking or getting dressed.”
If this problem is out of character for you, or seems to be getting worse, let a doctor know.
What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia are caused by changes in the brain changes that can begin years before early dementia signs present themselves. There are three general stages for Alzheimer’s mild , moderate , and severe . The speed at which a patient moves through these stages varies, but progression of the symptoms themselves follows a fairly standardized path.
The most common early dementia symptoms are forgetfulness and short-term memory loss. Patients may forget where they left something or have trouble recalling the details of a conversation, but long-term memory and the remembering of important dates or events is typically unaffected in early stages of dementia.
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, patients become increasingly confused about simple facts such as time or place and may have difficulty concentrating they can still complete regular tasks, but concentrating may take longer than usual.
Over time, symptoms of dementia may include frequently misplacing objects and an increased difficulty completing daily tasks. Patients are more likely to lose things and may have trouble retracing their steps to find them. This sometimes progresses to feelings of paranoia or accusations of theft when the patient cannot find something they unknowingly misplaced. Patients may also start to have trouble with daily tasks such as driving, cooking, or engaging in hobbies. Changes in vision and depth perception may also lead to increased clumsiness, falls, and other accidents.
What Affects The Speed Of Progression
The speed at which dementia progresses varies a lot from person to person because of factors such as:
- the type of dementia for example, Alzheimers disease tends to progress more slowly than the other types
- a persons age for example, Alzheimers disease generally progresses more slowly in older people than in younger people
- other long-term health problems dementia tends to progress more quickly if the person is living with other conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, particularly if these are not well managed
- delirium a medical condition that starts suddenly .
There is no way to be sure how quickly a persons dementia will progress. Some people with dementia will need support very soon after their diagnosis. In contrast, others will stay independent for several years.
Can Anaesthesia Cause Dementia In Dogs
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs. Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs.
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Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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What Are The Causes Of Lewy Body Dementia
The precise cause of LBD is unknown, but scientists are learning more about its biology and genetics. For example, we know that an accumulation of Lewy bodies is associated with a loss of certain neurons in the brain that produce two important chemicals that act as messengers between brain cells . One of these messengers, acetylcholine, is important for memory and learning. The other, dopamine, plays an important role in behavior, cognition, movement, motivation, sleep, and mood.
Scientists are also learning about risk factors for LBD. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Some risk factors can be controlled while others cannot. Age is considered the greatest risk factor. No specific lifestyle factor has been proven to increase one’s risk for LBD.
Other known risk factors for LBD include certain diseases and health conditions, particularly Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behavior disorder, which have been linked to a higher risk of LBD.
Having a family member with LBD also may increase a person’s risk, though LBD is not considered a genetic disease. Variants in three genes APOE, SNCA, and GBA have been associated with an increased risk, but in most cases, the cause is unknown.
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How Is Parkinson Disease Diagnosed
Parkinson disease can be hard to diagnose. No single test can identify it. Parkinson can be easily mistaken for another health condition. A healthcare provider will usually take a medical history, including a family history to find out if anyone else in your family has Parkinson’s disease. He or she will also do a neurological exam. Sometimes, an MRI or CT scan, or some other imaging scan of the brain can identify other problems or rule out other diseases.
When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
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What Other Things Help
In addition to medications, there are various ways to help a person with vascular dementia. Research has shown that physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight help to enhance brain health and reduce the risk of heart problems, stroke and other diseases that affect blood vessels. A balanced diet, enough sleep and limited alcohol intake are other important ways to promote good brain health and reduce the risk for heart disease. Other illnesses that affect the brain, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, should also be treated if present.
What Is Lewy Body Dementia Causes Symptoms And Treatments
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Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common causes of dementia.
LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States. People typically show symptoms at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have LBD. LBD appears to affect slightly more men than women.
Diagnosing LBD can be challenging. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases or in psychiatric disorders. Lewy body dementia can occur alone or along with other brain disorders.
It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of five to eight years from the time of diagnosis to death, but can range from two to 20 years for some people. How quickly symptoms develop and change varies greatly from person to person, depending on overall health, age, and severity of symptoms.
In the early stages of LBD, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more help due to a decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they often depend entirely on others for assistance and care.
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