Green Line Senior Care

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEMENTIA


There are over 100 diseases that may cause dementia. The most common causes of dementia include Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.


FRONT TEMPORAL DEMENTIA


Front temporal Dementia or FTD is a condition that includes many disorders. This name was given to dementia due to progressive damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain.

The right and left frontal lobes at the front of the brain are involved in mood, social behavior, attention, judgement, planning and self-control. Damage can lead to reduced intellectual abilities and changes in personality, emotions and behavior.

The right and left temporal lobes at the two sides of the brain are involved in processing what we hear and understanding and see. Damage may lead to difficulties recognizing objects, understanding or expressing language.

FTD is sometimes called frontotemporal lobar degeneration. It was first described 100 years ago by Arnold Pick and was previously referred to as Pick’s disease.

The symptoms of FTD depend on which areas of the brain are damaged. In contrast to Alzheimer’s disease, memory often remains unaffected in FTD, especially in the early stages. When the frontal lobes are affected first, the main changes are in personality and behavior, and this is called behavioral-variant FTD. When the temporal lobes are affected first, there is a loss of language skills.

The symptoms are compulsive behavior, apathy, lack of awareness of conditions, and a personal hygiene decline. Patient’s behavior may be inappropriate. FTD may include changes with the person’s speech, language, and movement.

 

INFECTIOUS DISEASE INDUCED DEMENTIA 

 

Viruses and bacteria can get into the brain and cause a few forms of dementia. One of these, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, is a rare infectious disease is spread through a protein called a prion. These invade the brain, destroying nerve cells, making the progression of memory problems and other cognitive issues quicker than with traditional, more mainstream, conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies. While the rare condition can be diagnosed through medical history and symptoms, only an autopsy will definitely confirm it. Upon autopsy, the brain tissue will be found to have holes from the destruction of the cells.

 

DEMENTIA FROM HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE 

 

Dementia may also come from the progressive of Huntington’s disease, which is a fatal condition of brain nerve cells. It is genetic, and typically isn’t showing signs until middle age.

Signs are similar to Alzheimer’s in that there is memory loss, mood swings, and disorientation and personality changes. Also, like Parkinson’s dementia, there are irregular and jerky movements, and the loss of abilities to talk and walk. Huntington’s disease has no definite cure or real treatment options currently, and the long-term prognosis is to increase the quality of life while alive. It can be determined by a simple blood test, looking for the defective gene.

 

VASCULAR DEMENTIA


Vascular dementia is the broad term for dementia associated with problems of circulation of blood to the brain.

When there are series of small strokes in the brain that affect function, it is called vascular dementia. The strokes deprive the brain of oxygen and nutrients, leaving behind symptoms of dementia. The strokes cause damage to the cortex of the brain, the area associated with learning, memory and language.

Their signs include a shuffling gait, disorientation with familiar settings, and inappropriate laughing or crying. There may be inability to handle finances. Some of the risk factors for vascular dementia include diabetes, smoking, heart rhythm abnormalities, high cholesterol; (hypercholesterolemia), and high blood pressure (hypertension). Vascular dementia can be seen easily on MRI or CT scan if it is from a cerebrovascular cause. Having a history of any of the risk factors can help lead to its diagnosis. Treating some of these risk factors can help slow the dementia’s progression.


ALCOHOL RELATED DEMENTIA


What is alcohol related dementia?

Alcohol related dementia is, as the name suggests, a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions. Korsakoff’s syndrome and Wernicke/Korsakoff syndrome are particular forms of alcohol related brain injury which may be related to alcohol related dementia.


What are the symptoms?

This can vary from person to person, but generally symptoms will include:

  • Impaired ability to learn things
  • Personality changes
  • Problems with memory
  • Difficulty with clear and logical thinking on tasks which require planning, organizing, common sense judgement and social skills
  • Problems with balance
  • Decreased initiative and spontaneity.


Generally skills learned earlier in life and old habits such as language and gestures tend to be relatively unaffected.


Is there treatment available?

At an early stage of the disease, problems may be reduced or reversed if the person abstains from alcohol, improves their diet and replace vitamins especially thiamine and vitamin B1. Thiamine is important to limit some of the toxic effects of alcohol, and is an important supplement for heavy drinkers.

Community support is available for the person with dementia, their family and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing dementia.


RISK FACTORS

Some of the risk factors associated with dementia can be managed through lifestyle changes or appropriate medical treatments.

Cardiovascular risk factors

Brain infarcts, heart disease and mid-life hypertension increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia. Smoking has also been identified as a risk factor.


Diabetes

A recent study found that having diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 65%. This risk can be reduced by careful management of diabetes with medications that maintain blood glucose levels within a healthy range.


High cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential to brain function – it is a component of cell membranes (structures that enclose nerve cells), and it is required for the repair and establishment of new connections between nerve cells. However, studies have shown that high cholesterol in mid-life and late-life can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


High homocysteine levels

Homocysteine is a by-product of many metabolic reactions occurring in our body. Some studies have found that high homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Adequate intake of vitamin B and folate can help reduce homocysteine levels.

 
Family history

A family history of dementia increases the risk of developing dementia. 


Head injury
Moderate to severe head injury increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. This risk is further increased, if the head injury resulted in loss of consciousness.