Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care and today I'm talking about dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Dementia is a syndrome that affects memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday tasks. There are many types of dementia and each has distinct symptoms, patterns and distinguishing brain abnormalities.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Some early symptoms include difficulty remembering names and recent events, inability to solve problems, apathy and depression.
Other types are Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia and Frontal Lobe dementia. Often times, people with dementia have more than one disorder present. This is called mixed dementia. There are three stages of dementia; early, middle and late.
In early-stage, people with Alzheimer's or other dementia retain enough function to get along day-to-day. However, they usually become more and more confused and forgetful. They may begin to lose language skills, have trouble handling money and paying bills, forget one's familiar tasks and have some personality changes.
In middle stage dementia you begin to see more serious effects, such as significant memory loss and confusion, not recognizing family and friends, repetition and lack of ability to sequence tasks or manage finances. This stage is usually when families intervene.
In late stage dementia, the person suffers more physical effects. He or she becomes more prone to false and infection. Full loss of bladder and bowel control is common and the swallowing reflex often declines. Though the precise cause is not known, most experts agree that dementia and Alzheimer's disease likely develops as a result of multiple factors including advancing age, cardiovascular disease, a history of head trauma or family history.
Let's talk about family history for a minute. People carrying for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer's disease often wonder if they inherited the disease. The latest medical thinking in this area is that early onset Alzheimer's which begins well before the age of 65, may be more inheritable.
Fortunately, these cases represent less than 5% of all diagnoses. If you have a relative, whose Alzheimer's disease began well after the age of 65, you probably only have a slight increase in risk, if any.
The best thing to do is to live a healthy life by getting plenty of exercise, not smoking, controlling weight, eating a heart-friendly diet and staying socially and intellectually active.