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What Is Old Age Dementia

Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia

Conditions in old age that look like dementia but are other conditions

Although Alzheimers disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.

Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:

  • personality changes reduced sensitivity to others feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
  • lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
  • language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
  • becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking

Read more about frontotemporal dementia.

Stage : Mild Dementia

At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:

  • Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.

Why It’s Important To Get A Diagnosis

Although there is no cure for dementia at the moment, an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.

A diagnosis helps people with dementia get the right treatment and support. It can also help them, and the people close to them, to prepare for the future.

Read more about how dementia is diagnosed.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

Because dementia is a general term, its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. People with dementia have problems with:

  • Memory
  • Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
  • Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision

Signs that may point to dementia include:

  • Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
  • Forgetting old memories
  • Not being able to complete tasks independently

Major Epidemiological Studies Of The Oldest Old

Pessimism about old age may be a risk factor for dementia ...

Most study cohorts of the oldest old to date have either been small or have been located in the United States or Europe, where predominantly white elders of high socioeconomic status were included. Most epidemiological data in this population were derived from four large cohort studies: the 90+ Study , the Leiden 85-Plus Study , the Vantaa 85+ Study , and the Women Cognitive Impairment Study of Exceptional Aging , an ancillary study to the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. The Kungsholmen Project , the Eurodem group , the Canadian Study of Health and Aging , and the Cache County Study on Memory, Health, and Aging – while not dedicated exclusively to the study of the oldest old – all included very large cohorts of oldest old subjects, allowing contributions to our understanding of dementia in this demographic . The Cache County Study was conducted within a unique population of men in Utah noted to have among the longest life expectancies in the United States, potentially limiting applicability to the broader US or global population. Dementia is a growing global health concern with most of the projected increases in prevalence over the next 40 years expected to occur in low and middle-income countries . Studies completed among different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups as well as across different continents are thus greatly needed.

Table 2 Prevalence of dementia according to major studies specifically examining the oldest old

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How Are They Different

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, they are being diagnosed with a set of symptoms. This is similar to someone who has a sore throat. Their throat is sore but it is not known what is causing that particular symptom. It could be allergies, a common cold or strep throat. Similarly, when someone has dementia they are experiencing symptoms without being told what is causing those symptoms.

Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimers is not a reversible disease. It is degenerative and incurable at this time. Some forms of dementia, such as a drug interaction or a vitamin deficiency, are actually reversible or temporary.

Once a cause of dementia is found, appropriate treatment and counseling can begin. Until a proper diagnosis is made, the best approach to any dementia is communication, engagement and loving care.

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Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging

No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:

  • Occasionally misplacing car keys
  • Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
  • Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
  • Forgetting the most recent events

Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.

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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.

What Affects Life Expectancy In Dementia

Dementia in older patients

The life expectancy of someone living with dementia depends on many factors. The type of dementia, the severity of dementia at the time of diagnosis, and the individual’s age, sex, and their general health and wellbeing can all impact on the time they can live with the disease. The key things that affect life expectancy include:

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Why Knowing Life Expectancy Is Useful

Knowing what to expect, including life expectancy helps with planning. Someone predicted to survive for five or six years, as opposed to two years, will want to make more extensive plans, including getting an estate in order, activity planning, and budget. Knowing how quickly the disease is expected to progress symptomatically can impact care decisions. If the disease is predicted to come on very quickly, for example, then skipping traditional assisted living and looking into memory care or a nursing home might be the best option.

Knowing when full-time care becomes a requirement, either at-home or in a memory care residence, is especially useful given the high cost of care. It is estimated that 50% of nursing home residents have some level of dementia and over 60% of nursing home residents care is paid for by Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility is complicated, and families can spend up to 5 years waiting for a loved one with dementia to become Medicaid-eligible. Therefore, knowing how soon care is required can make a huge financial difference.

Contribute anonymously to our dementia life expectancy database. Start here.

Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia

Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.

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What Is Mixed Dementia

It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .

Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.

Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.

In addition, medical conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and delirium can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia, as can side effects of certain medicines.

Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:

Is It Aging Or Alzheimers

An age

Normal aging

  • Making a bad decision once in a while
  • Missing a monthly payment
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Misplacing things from time to time

Alzheimers disease

  • Making poor judgements and decisions a lot of the time
  • Problems taking care of monthly bills
  • Losing track of the date or time of year
  • Trouble having a conversation
  • Placing objects in unusual places

These are only a few examples dementia can present itself in varying ways.

Sometimes the person affected will not be aware of the deterioration in their cognitive abilities, and it is a loved one that spots the signs.

Katie said: That is a key feature of some types of dementia when you start to make mistakes more frequently but not realize its happening.

It becomes quite difficult for people who live independently and dont know theyre making mistakes around the house.

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When To Be Worried

So, when does forgetfulness escalate from a normal part of the aging process to cause for concern? Porter says the key difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that typical forgetfulness doesnt interfere with a persons ability to function in their daily life and they are still able to carry out their usual chores, activities and routines. Similarly, Dr. Aaron George, an osteopathic primary care physician, tells SheKnows that forgetfulness isnt cause for concern unless it becomes progressive and begins to impact daily activities.

In contrast , dementia is characterized by marked, persistent and disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment or abstract reasoning that significantly interfere with and disrupt your normal daily activities, Porter explains. When memory loss disrupts a persons work, hobbies, social activities and family relationships, this could be a sign they have an evolving dementia syndrome or a condition that mimics dementia, such as Alzheimers, a brain infection, cerebrovascular disease or an autoimmune illness like multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia.

MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, its normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, its not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.

If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.

While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, that doesnt mean its inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.

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Most Common Dementia Symptoms

Similar to other health conditions, dementia affects people differently. Dementia symptoms can develop slowly and build progressively over time.

Early symptoms of dementia in seniors include:

  • Short-term memory loss that disrupts daily life. An individual may forget recently learned information, important dates or events, ask the same questions repeatedly or need to rely on memory aids In addition, an individual may start putting everyday items in unusual places and are unable to trace their steps to find them again. This often leads to accusations of stealing.
  • Often finding difficulty in finding the right words or phrasing. This could include an individual stopping in the middle of a conversation or having trouble naming a familiar object, such as table or watch.
  • Visible changes in mood and attitude, such as unexplained outbursts of anger and crying.
  • Confusion and difficulty completing routine tasks. This could include following cooking recipes or keeping track of bills.
  • Changes to spatial relation processing abilities, resulting in accidents or difficulty with directions. For example, getting lost on the way to the grocery store and finding the way back home, issues with balance or trouble reading.
  • Obsessive and repetitive behaviors tied to memory loss. This could include locking doors over and over again and washing hands excessively.
  • Extreme difficulty with change or disruptions to normal patterns and routines, which can result in fear, stress and anxiety.

What Increases The Risk For Dementia

Series 6: Old Age and 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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What Is Senile Or Senile Dementia

Senile also known as Senile dementia is the mental deterioration that is associated with or the characteristics of old age. Two major types of senile dementia are identified as: those due to generalized atrophy and those due to vascular problems . Senile dementia is often used when referring to Alzheimers disease.

Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.

However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • being confused about time and place
  • mood changes

These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.

You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.

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Other Neurodegenerative Diseases And Conditions

Doctors have identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. The diseases have different symptoms that involve body and brain functions, and affect mental health and cognition.

Argyrophilic grain disease is a common, late-onset degenerative disease that affects brain regions involved in memory and emotion. It causes cognitive decline and changes in memory and behavior, with difficulty finding words. The diseases signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from late-onset AD. Confirmation of the diagnosis can be made only at autopsy.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder that is characterized by rapidly progressing dementia. Scientists found that infectious proteins called prions become misfolded and tend to clump together, causing the brain damage. Initial symptoms include impaired memory, judgment, and thinking, along with loss of muscle coordination and impaired vision. Some symptoms of CJD can be similar to symptoms of other progressive neurologic disorders, such as Alzheimers disease.

Secondary dementias occur in people with disorders that damage brain tissue. Such disorders may include multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and encephalitis, as well as Wilsons disease . People with malignant brain tumors may develop dementia or dementia-like symptoms because of damage to their brain circuits or a buildup of pressure inside the skull.

Alzheimers Vs Dementia What Is Dementia

Dementia Age Old Woman Dependent Alzheimer

Dementia is similar to Alzheimers in that it does result in significant memory loss. However, Dementia refers to the loss of cognitive ability due to no obvious circumstances such as a major injury or trauma. Rather than focusing on the memory portion of the brain, Dementia symptoms focus on multiple areas of the brain including the memory, language and problem solving areas. Like Alzheimers, Dementia is a progressive disease that begins almost unnoticeably and the patients health declines over time. In addition to having difficulty remembering things that are typically considered common knowledge, Dementia patients lose their ability to function in the world by losing the ability to recognize their own language, read, write, or solve basic math problems or tell time.

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