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.
What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a 65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia
First, some explanation of dementia vs. Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life. Not a normal part of aging, most dementias are typically caused by damaged brain cells.
Of all the dementias, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, accounting for 60-80% of the cases. In other words, it is a specific disease while “dementia” is a general term for a life-altering decline in brain function .
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What Happens In Alzheimer Disease
You probably know that your brain works by sending signals. Chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters , allow brain cells to talk to each other. But a person with Alzheimer disease has lower amounts of neurotransmitters.
People with Alzheimer disease also develop deposits of stuff that prevent the cells from working properly. When this happens, the cells can’t send the right signals to other parts of the brain. Over time, brain cells affected by Alzheimer disease also begin to shrink and die.
Medications For Cognitive Symptoms
No disease-modifying drugs are available for Alzheimers disease, but some options may reduce the symptoms and help improve quality of life.
Drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors can ease cognitive symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, altered thought processes, and judgment problems. They improve neural communication across the brain and slow the progress of these symptoms.
Three common drugs with Food and Drug Administration approval to treat these symptoms of Alzheimers disease are:
- donepezil , to treat all stages
- galantamine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages
- rivastigmine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages
Another drug, called memantine , has approval to treat moderate-to-severe Alzheimers disease. A combination of memantine and donepezil is also available.
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Practical Tips For People With Alzheimer’s
If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you may find it useful to:
- keep a diary and write down things you want to remember
- pin a weekly timetable to the wall
- put your keys in an obvious place, such as in a large bowl in your living room
- have a daily newspaper delivered to remind you of the day and date
- put labels on cupboards and drawers
- keep useful telephone numbers by the phone
- write yourself reminders for example, put a note on the front door to remind you to take your keys with you if you go out
- programme people’s names and numbers into your telephone
- set the alarm on your watch to act as a reminder
- install safety devices such as gas detectors and smoke alarms throughout your home
It may also be helpful to get in touch with a local or national Alzheimer’s or dementia support group, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, for more information and advice about living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more about living well with dementia
Understanding The Causes And Finding Ways To Cope
When someone with dementia lashes out at you for seemingly no reason, it’s normal to feel surprised, discouraged, hurt, irritated, and even angry at them. Learning what causes anger in dementia, and how best to respond, can help you cope.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
Tips To Ease Alzheimers Aggression
Once you understand the triggers for Alzheimerâs aggression, you can take steps to prevent it. A few things to try:
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The Course Website And Blog For The Fall 2014 Instance Of Penn State’s Sc200 Course
Alzheimers disease is a brain disease that slowly over time destroys memory and learning skills. In America it is currently estimated that 5.1 million individuals have the disease. Alzheimers disease is the number one cause of Dementia as well. Dementia is a loss of cognitive functioning. It is most common among older individuals. Alzheimers essentially leads to dementia, individuals start to get symptoms around the age of 60 and from then it is a slow decline until the individual cant even do simple tasks.
As sad as this disease is with 5.1 million Americans having the disease it makes you wonder why people get it and above all why there is no cure. I got the idea for this post because my grandfather has dementia from Alzheimers.
This got me thinking what really does cause Alzheimers? For this question there is no definitive answer. The only thing scientists can confirm is that it is caused by some combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors. The disease has been proven to be genetic but especially in those who get early on set Alzheimers. These are individuals who get the disease between the ages of 30 60. This is caused from a mutation in three specific genes passed down from a parent. Late onset Alzheimers occurs after the age of 60 and is also caused by a mutation in a gene passed down from a parent.
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Emotion And Behavior Treatments
The emotional and behavioral changes linked with Alzheimers disease can be challenging to manage. People may increasingly experience irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep problems, and other difficulties.
Treating the underlying causes of these changes can be helpful. Some may be side effects of medications, discomfort from other medical conditions, or problems with hearing or vision.
Identifying what triggered these behaviors and avoiding or changing these things can help people deal with the changes. Triggers may include changing environments, new caregivers, or being asked to bathe or change clothes.
It is often possible to change the environment to resolve obstacles and boost the persons comfort, security, and peace of mind.
The Alzheimers Association offer a list of helpful coping tips for caregivers.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend medications for these symptoms, such as:
- antidepressants, for low mood
develops due to the death of brain cells. It is a neurodegenerative condition, which means that the brain cell death happens over time.
In a person with Alzheimers, the brain tissue has fewer and fewer nerve cells and connections, and tiny deposits, known as plaques and tangles, build up on the nerve tissue.
Plaques develop between the dying brain cells. They are made from a protein known as beta-amyloid. The tangles, meanwhile, occur within the nerve cells. They are made from another protein, called tau.
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How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed And Treated
Doctors may ask questions about health, conduct cognitive tests, and carry out standard medical tests to determine whether to diagnose a person with Alzheimers disease. If a doctor thinks a person may have Alzheimers, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Specialists may conduct additional tests, such as brain scans or lab tests of spinal fluid, to help make a diagnosis. These tests measure signs of the disease, such as changes in brain size or levels of certain proteins.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are several medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can help manage some symptoms of the disease along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. In 2021, FDA provided accelerated approval for a new medication, aducanumab, that targets the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The new medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits, but has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring other drug therapies and nondrug interventions to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Dementia
- Memory loss
- Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- Being confused about time and place
- Mood changes and/or depression
If you display any of the following symptoms, you should contact your GP immediately.
The earlier you detect dementia, the easier it is to treat. Though as of yet there is no cure, treatments can slow the syndrome’s progression.
As dementia is a product of numerous different diseases, no single cure is likely to be developed.
The NHS offer a free Health Check to assess your overall health for those aged between 40 to 74.
This can help doctors spot early signs of dementia and tell you if you are at high risk. You can apply for your free check-up here.
New research has also indicated that hearing loss, loneliness, sitting most of the day and untreated depression can increase your risk.
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
In this and other forms of dementia, proteins called Lewy bodies build up and damage brain cells. Dementia with Lewy bodies can lead to problems with memory and movement. Someone with this condition might act out dreams or see things that arenât there . Although thereâs no cure, your doctor can help treat symptoms.
Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimers disease, this is not just a condition that affects older adults.
According to the Alzheimers Association, early onset Alzheimers disease affects around 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 years. Many people with this condition are in their 40s or 50s.
In many cases, doctors do not know why younger people develop this condition. Several rare genes can cause the condition. When there is a genetic cause, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.
What Are Some Risk Factors For Alzheimers Disease
Risk factors for the development of Alzheimers disease include:
- Age. Increasing age is the primary risk factor for developing Alzheimers disease.
- Genetics . There is a certain gene, apolipoprotein E that is associated with late-onset Alzheimers disease. Other genes have been associated with early-onset Alzheimers disease.
Researchers believe the presence of the last five risk factors mentioned above might reduce the clearance of amyloid protein from the brain, which then increases the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. In particular, the presence of a number of these risk factors at the same time and while the person is in his or her 50s is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimers disease.
There may be some ways to reduce the risk of mental decline. In general, living a healthy lifestyle protects the body from strokes and heart attacks and is believed to also protect the brain from cognitive decline. Scientists cant absolutely prove the cause and effect of the following factors, but studies have shown a positive association.
The Brain And Alzheimer’s Disease
When a person has Alzheimerâs, their brain changes. It has fewer healthy cells, and it gets smaller over time. Most of the time, the brain cells also form two types of flaws:
- Neurofibrillary tangles. These are twisted fibers inside brain cells that keep nutrients and other important things from moving from one part of the cell to another
- Beta-amyloid plaques. These are sticky clumps of proteins that build up between nerve cells instead of breaking down like they do in healthy brains.
Plaques and tangles damage the healthy brain cells around them. The damaged cells die, and the brain shrinks. These changes cause the symptoms of Alzheimerâs, such as memory loss, speech problems, confusion, and mood swings.
Brain cells affected by the disease also make lower amounts of the chemicals called neurotransmitters that nerves use to send messages to each other.
Scientists don’t know if these brain cell changes cause Alzheimerâs or happen because of it.
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How Dementia Causes Death
A person in the late stage of dementia is at risk for many medical complications. Because they’re unable to move, they’re especially high risk for certain conditions.
In the end, most people with late-stage dementia die from underlying dementia or a related complication. For example:
- A person may die from an infection like aspiration pneumonia. If someone has trouble swallowing, food or liquids may go down the wrong tube. Instead of going into the esophagus or stomach, it’s breathed into the airways or lungs. This leads to a type of pneumonia called aspiration pneumonia.
- Another person may die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedbound and not mobile.
It’s important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness and can lead to death. In these cases, the death certificate may list dementia as the cause of death.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Medical management can improve quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimers disease and for their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimers disease. Treatment addresses several areas:
- Helping people maintain brain health.
- Managing behavioral symptoms.
- Slowing or delaying symptoms of the disease.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Impact On Families And Carers
In 2019, informal carers spent on average 5 hours per day providing care for people living with dementia. This can be overwhelming . Physical, emotional and financial pressures can cause great stress to families and carers, and support is required from the health, social, financial and legal systems. Fifty percent of the global cost of dementia is attributed to informal care.
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Why Do People Get Dementia
According to Alzheimer’s Society, dementia is not a natural part of aging and is caused when a disease damages nerve cells in the brain.
As more nerve cells are damaged, the brain becomes less able to work properly.
Dementia can be caused by many different diseases, but 19 of 20 dementia sufferers have one of the four main causes which affect the brain in different ways.
The leading causes of dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease – The most common cause, commonly linked to memory loss and communication issues
- Vascular dementia – Cuts blood flow to the brain, confused decision making is a major symptom
- Dementia with Lewy bodies – Causes Abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain and can lead to hallucinations, confusion and change in character
- Frontotemporal dementia – Sometimes called Pick’s disease, is commonly results in personality changes and language issues.