Tests For Vascular Dementia
There’s no single test for vascular dementia.
The tests that are needed to make a diagnosis include:
- an assessment of symptoms for example, whether these are typical symptoms of vascular dementia
- a full medical history, including asking about a history of conditions related to vascular dementia, such as strokes or high blood pressure
- an assessment of mental abilities this will usually involve several tasks and questions
- a brain scan, such as an MRI scan or CT scan, to look for any changes that have happened in your brain
Find out more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.
Atrophy On Brain Scans
Below I show an MRI brain scan. We can see the skull and the corticospinal fluid surrounding the brain . The brain itself has two colours on this type of MRI scan a withe-ish colour and a grey-ish colour. The white-ish colour indicates the so-called white matter, which is basically the nerve fibre bundles connecting different brain regions with each other. The white matter is not as important to atrophy as they grey matter the greyish coloured brain regions. The grey matter is where most of the cells bodies of our nerve cells sit. We can see that the majority of the nerve cells can be found on the outer regions of the brain the so-called brain cortex its like a grey ribbon around the brain. Since atrophy is mostly affecting the nerve cells, it is, therefore, the brain cortex , where we can see atrophy brain changes in dementia on brain scans.
Figure showing MRI brain scan, showing the brain, skull and corticospinal fluid zoomed in insert shows a close-up of the grey matter ribbon at the brain cortex red line indicates border between grey matter and corticospinal fluid blue line indicates border between grey matter and white matter.Figure shows brain MRI scans of: a healthy aged person a person with mild dementia and a person with moderate dementia. Three red square highlights the atrophy, showing increasing gaps between brain regions caused by nerve cell loss in the grey matter. Note: The scans are three different people, not the same person over time.
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
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Tea And Coffee Linked To Reduced Risk Of Stroke Dementia
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The cup of coffee or tea you reach for in the morning OK, maybe it’s a few may be associated with a lower risk for stroke and dementia, according to a new study.
Among more than 360,000 participants studied over a period of 10 to 14 years, those who drank two to three cups of coffee, three to five cups of tea or a combination of four to six cups of coffee or tea a day had the lowest risk of stroke and dementia, according to researchers from Tianjin Medical University in Tianjin, China.
“Our findings suggested that moderate consumption of coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia,” the authors of the study said in a release.
Around the world, 10% of deaths are caused by stroke, according to a 2017 study published in The Lancet. Dementia refers to a general decline in brain function, but it can set in after a stroke.
Drinking coffee or tea alone also was associated with lower risk for both conditions, but people who had two to three cups of coffee and two to three cups of tea daily four to six cups total faired the best, with a 28% lower risk of dementia and 32% lower risk of stroke than those who didn’t drink either, according to the study.
Over the course of the study period, 5,079 participants developed dementia and 10,053 experienced at least one stroke, according to the study, which was published in PLOS Medicine.
The Use Of The Word Senile
The common use of the word senile loosely references the loss of cognitive abilities or the inability to think clearly. Although still occasionally used, this term has lost its popularity, partly because it has a negative, disrespectful tone, as in, “The old man is senile.”
Senile was used more commonly in the past, especially when memory loss and confusion were thought of, by some, as a normal consequence of getting older. The view used to be that the body and the mind both could be expected to decline together as someone aged, and that poor mental functioning was just a normal part of aging.
An individual was often described as having “senile dementia” or “senile Alzheimer’s,” meaning that the disease and its associated mental decline developed in older age.
Science now understands that significant memory loss, disorientation, and confusion are not normal parts of aging but rather are symptoms of a neurocognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, or Lewy body dementia.
Senile is sometimes used to describe the plaques that build up in the brain as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. These senile plaques are often described as one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, along with neurofibrillary tangles.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health service
- Your local council
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care Tel. 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres Tel 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Dementia Caused By Huntingtons Disease
Huntingtons disease is an inherited degenerative brain disease that affects the mind and body. It usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50, and is characterised by intellectual decline and irregular involuntary movement of the limbs or facial muscles. Other symptoms include personality change, memory disturbance, slurred speech, impaired judgement and psychiatric problems.There is no treatment available to stop the progression of this disease, but medication can control movement disorders and psychiatric symptoms. Dementia occurs in the majority of people with Huntingtons disease.
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Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Dementia will normally be diagnosed by a specialist doctor who could be:
- a psychiatrist a mental health specialist,
- a geriatrician a doctor who specialises in the physical health of older people,
- a neurologist someone who specialises in diseases of the nervous system.
- a GP or specialist nurse may sometimes make the diagnosis, if they have relevant expertise and training.
What Is Brain Shrinkage/atrophy In Dementia
When receiving a diagnosis of dementia, many people hear for the first time the term brain atrophy. The term is usually given by the clinician providing the diagnosis when discussing their brain scan. For example, you have mild atrophy in your brain, suggesting that you might have the early stages of Mild Cognitive Impairment/Alzheimers disease/other forms of dementia. But what is actually meant with this term atrophy and what does it refer to specifically?
Lets find out.
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Dementias Impact On Caregivers
For every person with dementia there is at least one caregiver usually an unpaid family member. The drive to care for a loved one with dementia is noble and good, but caregivers are at a high risk of stress, anxiety, depression, suppressed immune function, and poor attention to their own health. The Alzheimers Association provides a several forms of support for caregivers including their ALZConnected dedicated Alzheimers online community as well as a searchable database of existing, approved Support Groups across the US. The Alzheimers Foundation of America also offers a toll-free helpline with licensed social workers, educational materials and events.
My own family includes several past and present Alzheimers patients and I can say with certainty that leaning on the advice and community that support groups provide, makes an enormous difference. The CDCs own REACH OUT program has shown that caregivers who participate in support groups have overall improvements in health and depression and feel less burdened and less bitterness towards the care recipient.
Dont do this alone. There are numerous resources available to help you. Dementia in a family member does not have to destroy your health too.
Stimulating Exercises For People With Dementia
Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms get worse over time. The progression of dementia is different for every individual for some people, it progresses rapidly, whereas for others, it may progress over the span of several years. However, research shows that cognitive stimulation helps reduce decline in cognitive function for individuals with mild to moderate dementia.
Here are 10 stimulating exercises for people with dementia:
1. Create a Memory Box
Since most forms of dementia affect an individuals memory, looking through a memory box with pictures of their loved ones and happy moments can be a great reminiscent activity. The memory box can consist of anything, not just pictures. It promotes engagement opportunities for patients living with dementia, as well as for their loved ones and caregivers.
2.Cook Simple Recipes
The process of cooking and baking requires motor skills, thinking, and short-term memory. Also, the smell or taste of their favourite childhood recipe allows the individual to have a reminiscent experience while cooking. Cooking healthy recipes helps improve general health, and is also beneficial for brain health.
3.Listen and Dance to Music
Similar to the memory box, listening to music that the individual enjoys can provide comfort and feelings of nostalgia. A bonus benefit of this activity is that it encourages dancing, a physical activity that helps keep you in healthy shape!
4 .Work on a Picture Puzzle
5. Household Chores
8. Read a Book
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What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia
The risk factors for developing dementia include age and family history. Age and a family history of dementia are non-modifiable risk factors. Abnormal genes which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease have been identified, but are only rarely involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes increase the risks of developing either Alzheimer’s disease or multi-infarct dementia. Some medications can lead to memory problems which look like dementia.
Dementia: What It Is And What It Isnt
Dementia is a that impacts ones ability to perform normal functions, such as dressing, walking, banking, driving, and so on. Dementia is not a disease in itself, it is a term for the effects on memory and thinking that are caused by other diseases such as Alzheimers Disease, Thyroid imbalance, Major depression, vitamin deficiencies, other diseases like Lewy Body Dementia or Parkinsons disease, or the side effects of some medications. Most commonly, dementia gets grouped together under the umbrella of Alzheimers disease.
If you are experiencing forgetfulness this is not the same as dementia. To be able to tell the difference, it is helpful to know how doctors screen patients for dementia and how they define the different stages of it.
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What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
What Is The Life Expectancy For Dementia Can It Be Cured
There is no cure for dementia.
- Although Alzheimer’s disease is listed as the 6th most common cause of death in the U.S.. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease most commonly die due to infections caused by lack of mobility.
- Pneumonia, bladder infections, bedsores, and other causes can lead to more wide-spread infection and subsequent death.
- Patients with dementias have widely varying life expectancies, depending on the underlying cause of their dementia. Life expectancy can range from only 1 to 2 years to more than 15 years the average duration of the disease is between 4 and 8 years after diagnosis.
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What Are The 7 As Of Dementia
The Seven As are an easy way for caregivers to remember which areas of the brain can be affected by dementia. Each of these As represents damage to a particular part of the brain:
- Anosognosia the individual no longer realizes there is something wrong.
- Amnesia the individual suffers memory loss beginning with short-term and eventually long-term memories.
- Aphasia the individual experiences loss of language skills, including the ability to speak, understand, read or write.
- Agnosia the individual is unable to recognize things through the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
- the individual has difficulty with movement and activities involving coordination, like tying shoelaces, doing up zippers, and driving.
- Altered perceptions the individual suffers loss of depth perception, for example.
- Apathy the individual is unable to, or lacks interest in beginning activities, or staying involved in a conversation or task.
As a caregiver, keep in mind that a person with dementia may not experience all of the As. Dementia can affect several different areas of the brain, but not always at the same time.
How Can I Tell If I Have Dementia
If you are becoming a bit more forgetful, it doesnt necessarily mean that you have dementia.
Many people notice that their thinking gets a bit slower or their memory becomes a bit less reliable as they get older. They may for example forget a friends name occasionally. These symptoms can also be a sign of stress, depression or certain physical illnesses, rather than dementia.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
There are a number of symptoms that may point to dementia if they start affecting your daily life. We list them below.
- struggle to remember recent events , although you can easily recall things that happened in the past,
- find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV,
- forget the names of friends or everyday objects,
- struggle to recall things you have heard, seen or read recently,
- regularly lose the thread of what you are saying,
- leave objects in unusual places ,
- have problems thinking and reasoning,
- feel anxious, depressed or angry,
- feel confused even when in a familiar environment or get lost on familiar journeys,
- find that other people start to comment on your forgetfulness.
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Can Dementia Be Prevented
It is not often possible to say why a particular person has developed dementia. Although ageing is the biggest factor for dementia, there are a number of things we can do to maintain a healthy life and reduce the chances of getting dementia. These include:
- Taking a regular physical exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation, or not drinking at all
- Having a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, does not contain too much salt, sugar or red meat, but contains fish and plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains. The vegetables which are said to be particularly beneficial are raw leafy greens, especially darker greens such as spinach, kale and romaine lettuce, as they have more brain-boosting antioxidants and vitamin K
- Being mentally active
- Being socially active
What risk factors can we change?
There are a number of factors which can lead to narrowing of the arteries thereby increasing the risk of developing Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. These include:
- Having high blood pressure
What Increases The Risk For Dementia
- AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
- Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
- Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
- Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
- Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.
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