10 Terms Related to Dementia
Dementia is a non-specific syndrome that affects cognitive areas of the brain that control memory, language, attention and problem solving. There are up to 50 different known versions of dementia. Dementia symptoms can include changes in personality, mood and behavior. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s, vascular, Lewy body and frontotemporal.
Tests for a dementia diagnosis include a medical history, medication history, a complete physical and a neurological examination.
A progressive decline in short-term memory or getting lost in familiar surroundings can be symptoms of Alzheimer’s as well as vascular dementia. Inappropriate laughing and crying is common in vascular dementia. People with Lewy body dementia may have significant fluctuations in alertness and attention. Frontotemporal dementia often presents with personality changes.
Symptoms may not be caused by dementia. Medications and infections can cause similar symptoms that can be reversed. An early diagnosis can provide valuable time for targeted therapy to help people better manage their everyday activities. Early diagnosis also provides more time to take medications that may slow symptoms.
Early onset dementia
When Alzheimer’s symptoms start before the age of 65 and dementia is diagnosed, the disease is considered early onset or younger onset.
Most people are aware of short-term memory to store newly acquired information and long-term memory to store information we need to recall. Emotional memory is how we remember life’s highlights.
While dementia medications don’t offer a cure, cholinesterase inhibitor medications such as Exelon, Namenda, Cognex, Razadyne and Aricept can slow symptoms for a limited time.
There is no guaranteed method of preventing Alzheimer’s, however exercise, an active mental and social life and a Mediterranean dietmay help.
Using supplements as well as exercise and diet are considered alternative treatments. Vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid may help.
One source applying for clinical trials is the Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch. Another is the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
People with AD generally have a life expectancy of 3 to 10 years.