Owners' Blog

Types of Dementia

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

Caregivers in Buford GA

Dementia is a group of symptoms, not a specific disease. It is characterized by loss of memory, thinking and reasoning. The causes of dementia include the following diseases: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, vascular disorders, traumatic brain injuries and infections. Other causes of dementia that are reversible include alcohol or drug abuse, tumors, blood clots, vitamin B-12 deficiency, hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia.

Alzheimer’s

More than 35 million people are living with dementia. By the year 2050, this number is expected to triple. Alzheimer’s is the most prominent and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s has been defined as a slow-progressive brain disease that begins before any symptoms become apparent. It is characterized by loss of memory, apathy, impaired communication and lack of judgment. Visual disturbances often promote disorientation and confusion.

Parkinson’s

This progressive disease is largely associated with loss of mobility due to destruction of brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter, dopamine.

Huntington’s

Huntington’s disease is caused by a single defective gene. It is characterized by involuntary movements, changes in mood and behavior as well as reasoning skills.

Vascular Dementia also known as Post-stroke

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia. This disease occurs when parts of the brain have restricted blood flow, causing a decrease in oxygen and important nutrients. This occurs when blood vessels are restricted in some manner. Though stroke is often thought of the main precursor to vascular dementia, not all people who have had a stroke will develop this disease. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Impaired judgment and inability to make decisions are the first symptoms associated with this disease.

A distinguishing mark from Alzheimer’s is that loss of balance and difficulty walking can occur in the early stages of this type of dementia.

How to Help

If you are a family caregiver with a loved one who has been diagnosed with one of these diseases associated with dementia, both you and the one you care for are most likely facing emotional roller coasters and feelings of uncertainty. There are, however, many that have gone down this road before you. Joining a support group is one way to access their stories and what may have worked for them in similar situations. Keep in mind that these diseases affect individuals very differently and experiences described by those who suffer from them are widely varied. Loss of self-esteem, confidence and independence can ensue if your loved one looses the ability to perform the daily tasks of living. Your support and understanding is vital to ensuring their quality of life is maintained. If possible, obtain the services of a home care provider in the early stages so that they can develop a close relationship with your parent and be there to assist them as the disease progresses.

Resources
http://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp
http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2012/global-dementia.aspx
http://www.webmd.com/stroke/vascular-dementia

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in Buford, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.