When a person loses their cognitive functions, doctors may diagnose them with dementia. This disease interferes with the individual’s daily life and activities in one or more ways, and dementia ranges from very mild to the point in which a person cannot function independently any longer. Understanding the dementia spectrum is critical to gaining a better understanding of the disease and how it affects individuals. 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 70 percent of all dementia cases today. Amyloid plaques and beta tangles characterize this disease, and symptoms include impairments in language, memory, and visuospatial skills. The disease often begins with mild memory loss and may progress to the point a person can no longer carry on a conversation, as this dementia affects those parts of the brain responsible for memory, language, and thought control. 

Experts believe approximately 14 million people will receive this diagnosis by 2060, and the risk increases as a person gets older. Scientists continue to study whether diet, education, and environment play a role in the development of the disease, and genetics may also play a role in who gets it and who does not. A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may need to move to assisted living with memory care as the disease progresses to obtain help with everyday tasks. 

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia accounts for 10 to 20 percent of dementia cases. This form of dementia arises when blood vessels leading to the brain sustain damage or are diseased. The person will suffer from impaired motor skills and judgment. Symptoms may come on suddenly or appear over time. The person’s condition could improve for short periods but revert to showing symptoms. 

Doctors may diagnose a patient with Alzheimer’s disease when they suffer from vascular dementia, as the symptoms of each disease are very similar. Furthermore, a person may have vascular dementia by itself or vascular dementia with another disease. Doctors often find this disease after doing an MRI of the brain. They may see the abnormalities that lead to dementia. Often, the abnormalities occur as a result of a stroke, but not everyone who has a stroke develops dementia. An individual suffering from vascular dementia may benefit from an assisted living community in Anaheim, CA

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia makes up 10 percent of dementia cases. Doctors diagnose a patient with this type of dementia when they see the deterioration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Personality changes and language issues often serve as the first signs of this disorder. Doctors may misdiagnose the individual, believing they suffer from a psychiatric issue or Alzheimer’s disease. 

While certain genetic mutations may put a person more at risk, over 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with this disorder have no family history of it. Researchers today are looking at the link between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia, as the two diseases share genetics and molecular pathways. However, more research must be done in this area to gain a full understanding of any connection between the two disorders. 

Lewy Body Dementia

Five percent of patients diagnosed with dementia suffer from Lewy body dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. Lewy body protein deposits on nerve cells serve as the hallmark of this disease and may lead to hallucinations and sleep disorders. In addition, the person may struggle with impaired thinking and motor skills and need to move to a senior living community with memory care when they can no longer live alone or care for themselves. 

Individuals over the age of 60 remain most at risk of Lewy body dementia. Furthermore, men are more likely than women to receive this diagnosis. Anyone with a family history of Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease should let their doctor know, as these conditions put a person more at risk of developing this form of dementia.

Other Dementias

The other five percent of patients diagnosed with dementia, suffer from dementia-related to other diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. For example, a person with HIV or AIDS may suffer from HIV/AIDS dementia, and a person with Huntington’s disease is more likely to develop dementia. 

Families must know the signs of dementia and take a loved one to see a doctor if any symptoms appear. The doctor can rule out other conditions that may be leading to the symptoms and advise a treatment plan for the loved one who has this disease. Early action is imperative so loved ones can have every moment with this person before the symptoms make it difficult to interact with them. 

About Arbor Palms Senior Living

Arbor Palms of Anaheim believes in compassionate, graceful aging and providing excellent service to residents. Wellness programs nourish the body while activities bring residents together. Residents find the community simplifies their lives while eliminating some burdens.