What Are The Different Types Of Dementia
Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.
The five most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
- Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
- Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
- Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.
What A Doctor May Check And Ask
Most people with suspected dementia will go to a doctors surgery to see their GP. Some doctors, however, will prefer to make a home visit to observe and assess someones behaviour in their own environment. A GP will check a persons blood pressure, temperature and pulse, listen to their heart and lungs and collect blood and urine samples for further tests to be carried out. The doctor will ask what potential signs of dementia have been noticed and when they began, how often they occur and whether they are getting worse.
The GP may ask a series of questions designed to test the persons memory and reasoning skills. The doctor is also likely to carry out a detailed review of any medication taken and ask about personal and family medical history, diet, smoking, intake of alcohol and exercise. The doctor will welcome notes perhaps kept by the patient, a partner, close family member or a care worker that outline when any symptoms or changes first happened. The GP may feel able to make a diagnosis at the conclusion of the assessment or may refer the person to a memory clinic or specialist.
Cultural diversity is an important consideration in the assessment process. Dementia assessments need to be culturally appropriate and recognise the impact of culture on individual behaviour. An interpreter may be vital for a proper assessment.
Dementia Or Alzheimer’s: What’s The Difference
Before we begin, one needs to understand that one is a disease and one is a syndrome.
First, Dementia is a syndrome that has number of causes. Then, Neurons in areas of the brain involved in cognitive function have been damaged or destroyed. Furthermore, the main characteristics revolve around difficulties with memory, speaking/listening, problem-solving and other cognitive skills. Because of that, these symptoms affect a persons ability to perform daily activities.
Finally, Alzheimers disease is a degenerative brain disease and is the most common cause of dementia. Then, neurons in other areas of the brain are eventually damaged or destroyed as well. Furthermore, the difference is that destruction includes areas that enable one to carry out basic functions such as walking and swallowing. Conversely, patients on their final stages are bedridden and require round-the-clock care. Hence, it is an ultimately fatal condition.
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Who Gives The Diagnosis
The GP will, in most cases, tell a patient about a diagnosis of dementia. If the person has been referred to a specialist for further tests or brain scans, reports of those will be sent to the GP. In some cases, a doctor may decide a diagnosis is too much for the person to cope with and may initially inform a partner or close relative.
How The Sage Test For Dementia Works
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The SAGE test has 12 questions that cover all aspects of cognition, including memory, problem solving, and language.
There are 4 different versions of the test. Theyre similar enough, but having multiple versions means that someone could take the test once a year and wouldnt improve their score each year just from the practice of taking it before.
This way, the test is slightly different each time.
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Dementia Tests You Can Do At Home
There is no one correct way that you can test for conditions like Alzheimers or other forms of dementia without taking a medical test that a doctor can give. But you can do an easy memory test at home. The test may help give you an indication that something may be wrong with your, or somebody elses memory. It helps differentiate between normal everyday forgetfulness that we sometimes get and something more serious.
We take a look at two ways that you can a do at home dementia test
Word Association Tests
Simple word tests can be used to help detect memory problems a person may have.
Our brain saves and stores all the words we learn during our lives in our memories which then allows us to recollect what a word means without thinking about it.
A person who is having difficulty remembering words or confusing their words could have a problem that is associated with their memory. Word association tests such as the one below seem to work well in detecting memory problems.
- Ask the individual taking the test to name all the animals they can think of in one minute.
- Ask the individual to name all the types of fruit they can remember in one minute.
Test Results Research has found that a healthy individuals scoring should between 20 to 25 words in the time given whereas a person who may have memory problems usually scores between 10 15
The Clock Drawing Test. Do at Home Dementia Test.
Dementia Clock Test Results
Laboratory And Imaging Evaluation
It is recommended that any assessment for suspected dementia include an initial laboratory evaluation to rule out confounders of memory or reversible causes of memory loss. The American Academy of Neurology recommends testing of vitamin B12 levels and thyroid function for routine initial evaluation. 28 In addition to these tests, the AGS recommends adding a complete blood count and a complete metabolic panel, as well as checking folate levels .27 If the patient has a history of risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, testing for syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus infection should be added.27 Other testing such as urinalysis, urine culture, and heavy metal screening should be performed when clinical suspicion is high. Lumbar puncture with cerebrospinal fluid analysis may be indicated if there is suspicion of neurosyphilis, HIV infection, cerebral Lyme disease, or vasculitis.27
Studies Recommended by the American Geriatrics Society for Patients with Suspected Dementia
|Laboratory tests||Tests to consider in patients with specific risk factors|
Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain if any of the following are present:
Consider positron emission tomography if definitive diagnosis will change management decisions
Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
Thyroid-stimulating hormone level*
Vitamin B12 level*
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Studies Find Sage Reliable
Researchers from Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University recently reported that over 1,000 people took the test over a five year period.
In that time, the test detected early signs of cognitive issues in 30% of the participants. Dr. Douglas Scharre reaffirmed his confidence in the test saying, What we found was that this SAGE, self-administered test correlated very well with the very detailed cognitive testing.
When the test is repeated over time, doctors can monitor their patients and detect slight changes in cognitive ability. Scharre went on to say, If we see this change, we can catch it really early, and we can start treatments much earlier than we did without a test.
Because early detection is crucial to managing and treating Alzheimers, SAGE could be an essential tool in slowing the progression of the disease.
Do you think SAGE is a valuable tool in the early diagnosis of Alzheimers? Wed like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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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Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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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How Is Dementia Diagnosed And Evaluated
Dementia diagnosis uses a variety of tests to rule out other, treatable conditions such as depression, vitamin B12 deficiency, hydrocephalus and hypothyroidism. Physical and neurological examinations and cognitive testing are usually part of the analysis.
Brain imaging is a useful complement to laboratory tests to rule out other treatable conditions such as brain tumor. Your doctor may order one of the following imaging tests:
MRI of the head uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the brain to detect brain abnormalities and diagnose conditions in the brain. Sometimes contrast material is injected into an arm vein to enhance the images. Head MRI may also reveal whether a stroke has recently occurred. See the Safety page for more information about MRI. In many cases the physicians may order a second MRI to assess changes that have occurred in the interval.
Brain functional magnetic resonance imaging uses MR imaging to measure blood flow and oxygen changes that take place in an active part of the brain. fMRI can be used to help assess how brain function has been impacted by stroke, trauma or degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. However, its use as a diagnostic test is limited in dementia.
Who Else May A Person With Dementia See
A person with suspected dementia may come into contact with a range of health and social care professionals. Consultants usually operate within specialist teams, including nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers. Nurses who work with people with dementia, and those caring for them, include: community mental health nurses , who work in the community, providing treatment, care and support for people with mental health problems and dementia district or community nurses, who provide care and advice for people living at home and practice nurses, who work with doctors in GP practices.
Clinical psychologists, who often work with consultants in memory clinics, assess memory and learning abilities. Occupational therapists can advise people on ways of maintaining their independence including carrying out adaptations and using special equipment. Social workers may be involved in assessing someones need for care services and home care workers may be brought in to help with personal and other care. Physiotherapists may be asked to advise on exercise for people, particularly in the early stages of dementia. Dieticians may be asked to provide guidance on nutrition, poor appetite, weight loss or weight gain.
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Preparing For A Doctor’s Visit
Why Take A Test For Dementia
It is crucial that the symptoms of memory loss are diagnosed as early as possible. This helps to get the best treatment possible. A do at home dementia test can help a person come to terms with the fact that they may be suffering from dementia.
By taking a simple do at home dementia test you should be able to determine if the person may have a problem with their memory. If they show signs if difficut during the test you should encourage them to seek further help fro their GP. There Doctor can then check for problems such as early stages of Alzheimers disease or dementia.
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Evaluation Of Suspected Dementia
B. BRENT SIMMONS, MD, and BRETT HARTMANN, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DANIEL DEJOSEPH, MD, The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Am Fam Physician. 2011 Oct 15 84:895-902.
As the proportion of persons in the United States older than 65 years increases, the prevalence of dementia will increase as well. Risk factors for dementia include age, family history of dementia, apolipoprotein E4 genotype, cardiovascular comorbidities, chronic anticholinergic use, and lower educational level. Patient history, physical examination, functional assessment, cognitive testing, laboratory studies, and imaging studies are used to assess a patient with suspected dementia. A two-visit approach is time-effective for primary care physicians in a busy outpatient setting. During the first visit, the physician should administer a screening test such as the verbal fluency test, the Mini-Cognitive Assessment Instrument, or the Sweet 16. These tests have high sensitivity and specificity for detecting dementia, and can be completed in as little as 60 seconds. If the screening test result is abnormal or clinical suspicion of another disease is present, appropriate laboratory and imaging tests should be ordered, and the patient should return for additional cognitive testing. A second visit should include a Mini-Mental State Examination, Geriatric Depression Scale, and verbal fluency and clock drawing tests, if not previously completed.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia
The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.
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.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
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