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Dementia - Causes, Signs, and Treatments



Dementia is a decreased mental ability that is caused by a number of possible conditions. Ultimately, it is caused by damage to the brain. There are many different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is caused by strokes which destroy portions of the brain.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and vascular dementia is the second most common. However, there are many other conditions that cause dementia and dementia-type symptoms. Because Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are the two most common, let’s take a closer look at the signs and symptoms. 


Memory Problems That Affect Daily Living 


We all struggle with memory challenges from time to time. You might lose your keys or forget what you were going to do when you walk into a room. Dementia memory problems are more significant. A person with dementia might forget how to use a common household object or forget where they are. 


Confusion and Difficulty Solving Problems


People with dementia can be overwhelmed by seemingly small problems. A person with dementia may not be able to figure out how to get home from the grocery store in the town where they have spent most of their life. They may suddenly wonder how they got to the grocery store or not even know where they are. 


Communication Difficulties


Many people with Alzheimer’s struggle with language. Their vocabulary may dwindle to a few dozen words and they may not remember the names of their best friends or common objects. 


Withdrawal and Changes in Mood and Behavior


Depression and withdrawal from social activities is common in people with dementia. It may be in part because they’re confused and self-conscious about their inability to remember. It’s also not uncommon for dementia patients to have significant personality changes or swift changes in mood. They may be fine one minute and in a rage the next. 


There is no cure for dementia when it’s caused by Alzheimer’s or stroke, although there are medications that can slow the progression of dementia. There’s no real test for dementia either. Doctors will generally ask a series of questions and ask the patient to perform some simple tasks like telling the time and remembering a sequence of numbers or words. 


If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to be patient. One of the most important treatments for dementia patients requires care givers to create coping strategies and methods for patients. Losing your memory, being confused and disoriented, and not being able to communicate effectively or function like you used to, is frightening and frustrating. The best thing you can do for a loved one with dementia is to help them feel independent and calm. 


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