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A Caregiver's Guide to Three of the Most Common Types of Dementia

Caring for aging loved ones is heart-rending on its own; caring for loved ones who are faced with the loss of cognitive and motor functions is an entirely different grievance and more challenging circumstance to navigate. While we can provide the necessary care to ensure they stay as healthy and happy as possible, it may help the way we approach certain issues if we have a better understanding of the specific type of dementia they are coping with. Dementia is the umbrella term used for specific diseases that cause a decline in thinking abilities and memory loss which hinders being able to perform daily activities. There is an estimate of five million adults over the age of 65 living with dementia. Keep reading to gain more insight on the top three most common types of dementia.

Alzheimer's

Neurons are brain cells and fundamental components of the nervous system. They are what processes and transmits information and are categorized into three different types: Motor, Sensory, and Interneurons. As healthy brains age, it's normal to lose some of these neurons; as brains with Alzheimer's age, these neurons stop functioning and die in large numbers. Alzheimer's tends to progress slowly and can even start with no symptoms present. Alzheimer's disease is often diagnosed in the mild dementia stage where the patient starts to lose memory of recent events, experience difficulty in problem-solving, and possible changes in their personality. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

Vascular Dementia

This form of dementia is a possible outcome of vascular brain diseases or brain injuries such as strokes which are ultimately triggered by high cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, or aging. Depending on the severity of brain damage, symptoms can remain mild or get progressively worse. Confusion, difficulty with speech, being able to form plans and communicate them effectively, and depression are a few of the most common symptoms typically displayed more dramatically shortly after enduring a stroke. According to the Alzheimer's Association (2018), vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, which form into clumps in brain cells, having a detrimental effect on how they communicate. Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is the term used to cover both dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD). These two disorders tend to overlap and share the same brain changes which ultimately affect cognitive health, the ability to pay attention, sleep patterns, and depression. Parkinson's disease dementia typically displays these symptoms after years of living with Parkinson's, a nervous system disorder. LBD patients often develop symptoms of Parkinson's as their cognitive and motor functions start to decline. There are several treatments available for both LBD and PD depending on the severity of the patient's symptoms; however, the true cause of dementia with Lewy Bodies is unknown. Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common type of dementia.

While there is no one test that can determine the cause of these specific types of dementia, there are several screening procedures doctors may conduct to determine whether the patient has it. The physician will typically ask about family history, which medications are being taken, or any other medical conditions that may be present. Oftentimes the patient displays dementia-like symptoms which include depression, sleep apnea, medication side effects, or thyroid problems. Seeking immediate help once these symptoms are shown will help your physician conduct the proper tests to diagnose and give possible treatments to reverse these dementia-like symptoms. Elite Home Health Care is here to provide the knowledge, compassion, and care for your loved ones. Contact us today for more information.