Are There Treatments For Alzheimers And Dementia
There are some non-medical treatment options, which can help you live well with dementia. These include emotional support and activities to support your physical and mental health.
There are also medical treatments available for some causes of dementia, and Alzheimers disease. The aim of treatment is to help your brain function. They can help you live independently and manage your symptoms.
Current treatments can slow the progress of Alzheimers disease. But they wont stop it completely or reverse its effects. Its also important to know that treatment doesnt work for everyone.
Outlook For People With Dementia
The outlook for patients suffering from dementia depends completely on the direct cause of dementia. The available treatments are used to make the symptoms of dementia manageable, but there is no sure-fire way of stopping the deterioration of the mind due to this disease.
Although vascular dementia can be slowed down in some cases, it can still shorten a patients lifespan. Some dementia variants are reversible, but most of them are irreversible and can cause physical and mental impairments, over time.
Causes And Risk Factors
The cause depends on the type, but the exact causes of many forms of dementia are currently unclear.
Dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, but age is one of the main risk factors. In fact, up to 50% of people aged 85 years and older may have a type of dementia.
Also, in the United States, around 11.3% of people aged over 65 years currently have Alzheimers disease, according to the Alzheimers Association. This number rises to 34.6% in those aged 85 years and older. Symptoms tend to worsen with age.
It is possible to develop dementia at a younger age, but the condition is more common among older adults.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Everybody with dementia will experience symptoms differently. It also depends on what is causing the dementia. Most dementia symptoms fall into three categories.
- Difficulties with remembering, thinking and language. For example, being forgetful, disorientated and repeating questions. Or struggling to remember words and have conversations.
- Difficulties completing daily activities. For example, struggling to take care of yourself or your home, or getting lost in familiar places.
- Emotional problems and changes in behaviour. For example, becoming withdrawn, low or anxious, being restless and have trouble sleeping.
Sometimes people with Alzheimers struggle to communicate how theyre feeling because of the changes to their brain. This means they might get upset or act aggressively if theyre feel scared, upset or confused.
Difference Between Alzheimers & Vascular Dementia
Alzheimers disease happens when neurons in the brain begin to die due to clumps of sticky proteins. Vascular dementia, on the other hand, is from impaired blood flow. The diseases also attack different parts of the brain. Alzheimers affects the grey matter while vascular dementia affects the white matter. Vascular dementia is more likely to affect movement in the earlier stages than Alzheimers.
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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.
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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Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s: Differences And Similarities
The terms dementia and Alzheimers are often used interchangeably. They, however, are not completely synonymous. Dementia is a group of symptoms characterized by a decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning. Dementia is not simply the age-related forgetfulness it is associated with other changes as well. It hinders a person from performing their routine tasks. They find it difficult to focus, understand, concentrate, and have a conversation besides other complaints. There are several causes of dementia:
Although dementia is a cluster of symptoms, Alzheimers is a disease. It is the commonest type of dementia consisting of around 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimers disease is an irreversible, slowly progressive disorder of the brain that destroys memory and thinking skills which eventually makes a person unable to carry out the most basic tasks. Most people develop this disease in their mid-60s while for some the symptoms first appear between their 30s and mid-60s. There are seven stages of Alzheimers, dementia occurs in the mid to late stages of the disease.
The Diagnostic Process May Differ
There can be more involved in arriving at a diagnosis of Alzheimers versus other forms of dementia. Aside from reviewing your medical history and ruling out other conditions, you might be evaluated by a neuropsychologist trained in brain conditions, notes the Mayo Clinic.
However, you might undergo brain-imaging tests that may indicate a progressive loss of brain cells that are associated with Alzheimers disease. However, its difficult to distinguish normal brain cell decline with Alzheimers using scans, so its not normally used in the diagnosis. Researchers are working on other methods to distinguish Alzheimers, such as using a scan that can detect an abnormal protein called tau.
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Signs Its Just Forgetfulness
If the following things apply to you or a loved one, its likely that the scatterbrained behavior is the result of normal aging:
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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How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.
What To Do If Youre Worried About Your Memory
If you suspect youre experiencing any warning signs of dementia , the first thing to do is see a physician. Dr. Scharre recommends asking for a cognitive assessment at your annual physical so your results can be compared year-over-year and declines can be identified and addressed right awayjust like a colonoscopy, blood pressure screening, or cholesterol testing.
As with any medical condition, typically the earlier you identify it, the more options you have for treatment and typically the better you do, he says. Some forms of dementia have treatable causes while others like Alzheimers are also treatable, just not reversible or curable. Thatnew medication the FDA approved for Alzheimers, for example, only works in the mild cognitive impairment stagethats where its sweet spot is and if you start getting even a little bit more than mild dementia its not useful.
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Psychotic Symptoms And Others
In addition to the symptoms we already mentioned, other symptoms may appear in both diseases. For example, in Alzheimers disease, delirium appears occasionally, while it rarely ever does in Parkinsons. Its vital to remember that delirium is an organic disorder that mainly affects consciousness and attention.
Regarding psychotic symptoms, visual hallucinations can appear in both diseases, more or less in the same proportion. Delusions may also arise. They occur often in Alzheimers and occasionally in Parkinsons.
Common Forms Of Dementia
There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitive physical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.
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The Differences Between Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s
16 October, 2020
Do you know the differences between Alzheimers and Parkinsons? First of all, we must say that both diseases constitute two of the causes of dementia. Now, lets be a bit more specific. According to data from the WHO , dementia due to Alzheimers disease represents 60-70% of all cases of dementia in the world.
However, its important to keep in mind that theyre very different diseases. Additionally, we must make clear that having either condition doesnt always lead to the development of dementia . In this sense, we know that between 20-60% of people with Parkinsons disease end up developing dementia.
Buter et al. conducted a study that was published in the journal Neurology. It was conducted with 233 patients with Parkinsons disease. The researchers were able to observe that about 60% of them developed Parkinsons dementia in a period of 12 years.
So whats dementia? It refers to the set of symptoms that arise as a consequence of neurological damage or disease. These symptoms involve the loss or weakening of the mental faculties and mainly affect three different areas: cognitive , behavioral , and personality .
How Common Is Dementia
Research shows there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80.
The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer. It is estimated that by 2025, the number of people with dementia in the UK will be more than 1 million.
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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.
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.
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Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia
Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.
Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
- Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
- Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.
Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:
- Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
- Tumor removal
Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â
Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â
Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â
BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â
Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â
Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â
Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â
Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â
Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â
Frontotemporal Dementia With Parkinsonism
One form of familial FTD, also known as frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism-17 , is caused by genetic changes in the gene for tau protein, located on chromosome 17. No other risk factors for this condition are known.
FTDP-17 is rare and accounts for only three per cent of all cases of dementia. Symptoms progressively get worse over time and usually appear between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition affects both thinking and behavioural skills and movements such as rigidity, lack of facial expression and problems with balance .
It can be distressing to be told that you have a genetic disorder or are at risk of having one. Genetic counselling provides the person and their family with information about a genetic disorder and its likely impact on their lives. This can assist a person with FTDP-17 to make informed medical and personal decisions about how to manage their condition and the challenges it presents to their health and wellbeing. Prenatal genetic counselling is also available for parents to help them decide about a pregnancy that may be at risk of FTDP-17.
Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
How Alzheimers Is Different
At its onset, Alzheimers tends to affect more of your learning and memory than other types of dementia, which might be more likely to impact your planning or language. In the brain of a person with Alzheimers disease, there are buildups of beta amyloid protein fragments between nerve cells as well as tangles of the protein tau inside cells. Scientists dont know exactly how these plaques and tangles contribute to Alzheimers disease, but some believe they throw off communication between nerve cells and interfere with normal cell processes, according to the Alzheimers Association. As the disease progresses and more of the brain is affected, a person may experience behavior changes, confusion, delusions, and difficulty speaking or walking. Other types of dementia can progress differently, depending on what parts of the brain are affected.
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