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Alzheimer's Disease

Dementia is the umbrella term for several neurological conditions, of which the major symptom includes a global decline in brain function. It can be a heartbreaking disease, since memory is how we get and keep meaning from life. Those with dementia or Alzheimer dementia may show frustration about being unable to express a deep, inner confusion of jumbled thoughts. As the disease progresses, their loved ones may become unrecognizable to the affected person, and he or she can become incapable of communicating coherently. Some types of dementia and causes of it may include:

  • Alzheimer dementia

  • Brain damage after many small strokes

  • Lewy body disease

  • Front-temporal dementia, such as Pick disease

  • Huntington disease

  • Brain injury

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion disorders

  • Parkinson disease

Risk Factors of Dementia

We don’t fully know all the risk factors of dementia, and it’s a big area of current research. Here are a few identified correlative causes.

  • Having other people in your family who have it

  • Down syndrome

  • Having head trauma

  • Having health problems that damage the heart and blood vessels, such as:

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Multiple strokes

Symptoms start slowly and get worse with time. A person may have:

  • Memory loss

  • Lack of focus

  • Problems making choices or plans

  • Problems naming things

  • Problems with getting lost in familiar places

  • Mood swings

  • Slowness when moving

  • Pulled away from other people

There is no cure for dementia, so the goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms. Tools in our clinic include cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking, or memantine to decrease abnormal activity in the brain in some patients. Lifestyle changes can also improve quality of life with dementia, such as making their home a calm and safe place, using memory aides, games, or puzzles, getting light exercise, incorporating fatty fish and olive oil into the diet, and choosing a trusted loved one who can make medical and other key choices for this person if they are unable to.

An early diagnosis can help people with dementia get the right treatment and support, and help those close to them to prepare and plan for the future. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead fulfilled lives while living with dementia.

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