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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to DementiaDementia

Dementia is a neurological disorder that affects mental functions such as thinking, reasoning and memory. Depending on its causes, the disease may also be accompanied by symptoms such as slurred speaking, difficulty in movement or hallucinations.

The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Other less common forms of dementia also appear in other conditions that may affect proper mental functioning such as alcoholism, thyroid disease, anemia, infections, certain drug interactions, brain tumors, or in the late stages of AIDS, Huntington's disease, or Parkinson's disease.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, with almost half of the over-85 population diagnosed with the condition, which currently has no cure. Alzheimer's usually begins with minor memory loss as abnormal plagues form in nerve cells within the brain. As the disease progresses, it affects a person's ability to reason or communicate clearly and, eventually, Alzheimer's patients lose all ability to care for themselves.

Lewy body dementia (LBD)

elderly woman suffering from dementia
:Lewy body dementia mimics
symptoms of both Alzheimer's
and Parkinson's disease.

The second leading cause of degenerative dementia in the elderly is Lewy body dementia -- so called for for scientist Friederich H. Lewy who in the early 20th century discovered abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain's normal functioning.

Today, the disease continues to be of interest to medical researchers as it shares many characteristics of two other diseases, i.e., the mental confusion brought about by Alzheimer's disease, and the physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease suggesting that all three conditions may be closely related.

Vascular dementia

Diabetes, stroke, or heart disease patients most often suffer from vascular dementia, as arteries that nourish the brain become narrowed or blocked. Symptoms may occur immediately following a stroke, or may develop slowly over time as seen in those who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes. Along with mental dysfunction, physical symptoms of vascular dementia also may include decreased vision and motor skills.

Dementia treatments & risk reduction

Although destroyed brain cells cannot be restored, vascular dementia remains the most easily managed form of the condition, which can be treated with high blood pressure or cholesterol reducing medications to decrease risk or recurrence of stroke or heart disease.

Some patients who suffer from Lewy body dementia have responded well to medications used in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. While there is still no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are medications that may slow the disease in some patients and thereby lessen the onset of dementia.

A proper diagnosis, say medical experts, is the first step toward managing dementia since the disease does not necessarily arise from an irreversible condition.

On the Web, find out more about the causes, progression, signs & symptoms, available treatments and prognosis for dementia, as well as facts & information on where to find online forums and support for dementia patients, their caregivers and loved ones ...

More about dementia around the Web:

Dementia Overview
- Excellent tutorial on the subject including causes, typical symptoms, treatments, drug therapies, and links & resources to caregiver information and support.

Facts about dementia - From the Alzheimer's Society with details on early and advanced signs including memory problems, communication difficulties and mood changes, how dementia progresses, with information for caregivers and related links to more information.

Dementia, Caregiving and Controlling Frustration - Informative guide for caregivers on how to cope with stress, communicating effectively, dealing with negative thoughts, and when to ask for help, with related references and resources.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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