Dementia at a Glance: Alzheimer’s and More
Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive impairment – difficulty remembering, thinking or making decisions that interfere with daily activities. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, there are many other forms.
In the United States, 5.8 million people suffer from dementia with the majority being over age 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dementia is not a normal part of aging.
Common Forms of Dementia
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia resulting in up to 80 percent of cases. People with Alzheimer’s have trouble remembering recent events. As the disease progresses, most struggle to remember older memories. Difficulty with communication, walking and personality changes also occur later in the disease.
- Vascular dementia occurs in around 10% of dementia cases and is linked to strokes or events that restrict blood flow to the brain. This form is more likely to occur in people who have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Symptoms can vary depending upon the parts of the brain affected. The disease progresses in steps as the individual experiences strokes or mini strokes.
- Lewy body dementia includes typical symptoms of dementia like memory loss, but this form also involves balance and movement problems. Changes in alertness, sleeping in the daytime, confusion or staring spells are also symptoms along with occasional visual hallucinations.
- Fronto-temporal dementia causes personality and behavioral changes that can be drastically different than behavior exhibited before onset of the disease. They may have trouble with language and communication.
- Mixed dementia is a form in which more than one dementia presents such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. This form of dementia usually occurs after age 80 and may progress more rapidly.
People over the age of 65 with a family history of dementia, poor heart health (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are smokers), or traumatic brain injury are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
Race and ethnicity also factor in. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to suffer from dementia than Caucasians.
If you or a loved one experience symptoms of dementia including memory problems, shortened attention span, difficulty communicating or impaired judgment and problem solving, discuss your concerns with your primary care provider.
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