All of us can be a little forgetful. But if you’re more than a little forgetful, you should be tested for dementia. Dementia is the loss of cognitive function, a serious condition that can have an impact on daily life. While 60 - 80% of individuals with dementia also have Alzheimer's disease, you can have dementia without having Alzheimer's disease. Other conditions also include dementia as a component, including:
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Frontotemporal Dementia
- Mixed Dementia
- Vascular Dementia
- Huntington’s Disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
Up to half of all people over 80 in the U.S. have some form of dementia. Dementia may come on suddenly. Or, it can be a slow erosion of your ability to remember things, recognize people, and care for yourself. Many treatments are available to help you cope with the progression of dementia.
Dementia symptoms can be different in every person. Dementia can develop slowly, making it hard to separate dementia symptoms from regular signs of aging. You should talk to your doctor right away if you experience any symptoms that could indicate dementia. Your doctor can perform tests and scans to determine if you have dementia. Common symptoms to look for include:
- Difficulty in thinking or judgment, an inability to weigh consequences, and inappropriate behavior
- Trouble remembering where you are, where you are going, or where you live, even in familiar surroundings
- An inability to recall details about current events or recent activities
- Problems doing mathematics or handling money
- Difficulty remembering names and faces, even with close friends and family
- Having hallucinations or becoming paranoid
- Striking out violently, becoming abnormally agitated, and having sudden mood swings
- Losing self-awareness or forgetting your own life events
- Problems recalling words or the names of things
- Difficulty with speech, composing sentences, or writing
- Being unable to perform basic daily activities without supervision like bathing, eating, drinking, and taking medication, or caring for your home
- Changes in sleep patterns or insomnia
- Personality changes, changes in social skills, and social isolation
Most types of dementia are caused by deterioration in the brain’s thinking and memory areas as it ages. Certain health conditions and diseases can accelerate the development of dementia. There are some risk factors that can make you more likely to develop dementia like:
- A family history of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or another cognitive impairment
- Injuries to the brain, like a stroke or trauma
- Abnormal protein structures in parts of the brain
- Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Advanced age
- Thickening of blood vessel walls (atherosclerosis)
There is no cure for dementia, and there is no way to stop it from progressing. Many treatments, medications, and therapies can help you learn to cope with dementia in yourself or a loved one.
Medication: There is no medication that will slow or cure dementia, but many medications are available to help alleviate some of the symptoms and complications that come with dementia. Find a doctor at Sheppard Pratt to talk to about medication.
Therapy: Many types of therapy can be helpful for managing dementia symptoms, including speech therapy, cognitive stimulation therapy, behavioral therapy, and other types of treatment. The Neuropsychiatry Program at Sheppard Pratt can help you make a therapy plan.
Education: Learning more about dementia and how it progresses is helpful for both you and your caregivers. Get more information about dementia and aging.
Support: Getting the right kind of support can help you feel more like yourself. See our current support groups available at Sheppard Pratt.