Not All Forgetfulness Is Evidence of Dementia. Not All Dementia is Alzheimers
As part of a small group of mostly seniors, the wife's admitted that they were painfully aware of even the slightest behaviors that might be evidencing oncoming dementia. The husbands immediately
I suspect that there are many middle age and senior adults who are anxiously wondering whether their loved one's failure to remember a date or the name of a famous movie star is normal or evidence of the first stages of much worse to come.
♦ Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60-80 percent of all cases of dementia in Americans.
Other DementiasIn addition to Alzheimer’s disease, there are several other diseases that are characterized by dementia symptoms, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
- Vascular dementia is a common cause of dementia and is a result of brain damage from cerebrovascular or cardiovascular problems, such as strokes or endocarditis
- Lewy body dementia is a progressive form of dementia that involves the death of cells in the brain’s outer layer and part of the mid-brain. Many of the surviving cells in these areas contain abnormal structures called Lewy bodies
- Frontotemporal dementia is associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain
- Huntington’s disease is a hereditary disorder that causes degeneration in the brain and spinal cord
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal form of the prion protein.
Dementia - Other CausesOther conditions can also cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms include:
- reactions to medications
- nutritional deficiencies
- brain tumors
- and anoxia or hypoxia (conditions in which the brain’s oxygen supply is either reduced or cut off entirely)
One in nine people age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease. About one-third of people age 85 and older (32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease. A total of 15% of the population over 65 will suffer from some form of dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth-leading cause of death for those age 65 and older. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
As you review the list below, please pay special attention to the What's normal portion of each item.
We all want to be vigilant and quick to respond to actual illness. But it is so easy to take the most normal activity out of context. I don't want to be flip about so serious a subject, but a quick reading of this list would have had my mom and wife both thinking I had dementia from a very early age.
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Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common
early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is
unable to recall the information later.
What’s normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.
|Difficulty performing familiar tasks|
People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete
everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps to prepare a
meal, place a telephone call or play a game.
What’s normal? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.
|Problems with language|
People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or
substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to
understand. They may be unable to find their toothbrush, for example,
and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth."
What’s normal? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
|Disorientation to time and place|
People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own
neighborhoods, forget where they are and how they got there, and not
know how to get back home.
What’s normal? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.
|Poor or decreased judgment|
Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately, wearing several
layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor
judgment about money, like giving away large sums to telemarketers.
What’s normal? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.
|Problems with abstract thinking|
Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty
performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are and
how they should be used.
What’s normal? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual
places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
What’s normal? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.
|Changes in mood or behavior|
Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
What’s normal? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.
|Changes in personality|
The personalities of people with dementia can
change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious,
fearful or dependent on a family member.
What’s normal? People’s personalities do change somewhat with age.
|Loss of initiative|
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive,
sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not
wanting to do usual activities. |
What’s normal? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.