Dementia is the deterioration of mental abilities such as memory, thinking and reasoning. Although it typically occurs with men and women at an older age, cases of dementia have been identified in people under the age of 60. Activities of daily living or, ADL, such as driving, getting dressed and feeding can decline over time in those that suffer from dementia.
Causes of Dementia
Dementia develops when certain parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory and language are affected by any various infections or diseases. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease and occurs on their own and not as a result of another disease. There is a lot of uncertainty medically speaking about how some diseases may be linked to dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and specific types of Multiple Sclerosis are types of dementia that stem from degenerative neurological diseases. Alzheimer’s the most common disease, causes approximately 50% of all dementia. A few other causes of dementia include:
- Chronic drug use
- Degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal lobar degenerations, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease
- Vascular disorders such as multi-infarct dementia
Who is at Risk?
Dementia is considered a late-life disease because it typically develops in the elderly. Approximately 5%-8% of people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia. Reports indicate that as many as half of the population in the United States over the age of 85 suffer from dementia.
Treatment of Dementia
Most cases of dementia cannot be cured, but can be controlled. Depending on the condition, treatment options vary. Sometimes treatments can be as simple as stopping or changing medications. Those that suffer from dementia need to be under constant medical attention, although family members are able to handle most of the day-to-day care. The goal in treating dementia is to control the symptoms so that a person is able to maintain a high quality of life.
There is no proven way to prevent dementia, yet there are steps you can take that might lower the risk. Some of these steps include:
- Keep mentally active. This may include doing puzzles, working on word games and even learning a new language.
- Be physically and socially active
- Lower your homocysteine levels
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Control your diabetes
- Quit smoking
- Lower your blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Get vaccinations