The Top Causes of Dementia What You Need To Know About Prevention

An elderly couple in athletic wear doing stretches.

Dementia, the loss of a person’s memories over time, is a complicated medical condition with many causes. While some of these causes are not preventable, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of developing others.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes of dementia and how to prevent them, and come see us for dementia treatment at the Family Medicine and Geriatric Clinic in Edinburg.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The condition usually starts with mild symptoms of memory loss. These symptoms progress over time until the sufferer eventually begins to struggle with basic functions, like holding a conversation or responding to the environment around them. Alzheimer’s affects patients’ ability to control their memory, language, and thoughts.

While many of the factors that determine the likelihood that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease cannot be changed, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet can help combat some of the contributing causes.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is an incurable brain disorder that affects an individual’s ability to control their movements. Like many causes of dementia, Parkinson’s disease begins with mild symptoms that progress over time until the sufferer ultimately begins to struggle with everyday actions, such as walking and eating. As the condition affects the brain, Parkinson’s can lead to problems with memory and decision-making.

Unfortunately, there are no methods that have been proven to reduce a person’s likelihood of developing Parkinson’s. Doctors currently believe that the condition is usually caused by genetics, though exposure to toxic chemicals may present a small risk as well.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is a form of dementia caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. The condition is associated with judgment and reasoning problems, as well as memory loss. Similar to other dementia causes, vascular dementia progresses from mild to severe over time. The most severe stages of vascular dementia involve extensive memory loss as well as loss of language skills and coordination.

Vascular dementia is usually caused by heart problems such as a stroke or heart disease. The key to preventing vascular dementia is maintaining your heart health.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia is a condition in which protein forms abnormal deposits in the brain, obstructing the brain’s function. The clumps formed by the protein are called Lewy bodies, and they can have a serious impact on your brain’s chemicals. Slightly more common in men than women, Lewy body symptoms usually occur after the age of 50 and progress with time.

Like Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia cannot be cured or prevented. However, keeping your brain healthy with regular exercise and a good diet might help reduce your risk.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Similar to Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is caused by protein deposits developing inside the brain, specifically in the frontal and temporal lobes. These deposits then cause damage to surrounding brain cells, preventing their normal functioning. 

Unlike most types of dementia, some forms of FTD can be inherited. However, this is still relatively uncommon, only making up about 10% to 15% of all cases of FTD. Unfortunately, even in non-inherited cases, there are no known ways to prevent FTD, though it may be more common in those with a history of head trauma injuries. 

Severe Head Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), usually caused by accidents like falls or vehicle collisions, are another common cause of dementia. The severity of a TBI varies depending on how long the patient was rendered unconscious. While some TBIs result in immediate memory loss symptoms, others may lead to symptoms that slowly appear over several weeks. In addition, TBIs have been linked to a higher risk of developing dementia, even years after the injury occurred.

Of course, there’s no surefire way to avoid a serious injury; sometimes accidents just happen. To diminish the likelihood of a serious injury, always wear your seatbelt or helmet, avoid walking on ice, and take care when using a ladder.

Less Common Dementia Causes

While the conditions listed above are the most common causes of dementia, there are many other health problems that can lead to the development of dementia. 

While the remaining conditions are less common causes of dementia, it’s still important to be aware of these risks:

  • Infection-related brain damage
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple system atrophy

Dementia and Genetics

Some of the conditions that cause dementia can be inherited, including Parkinson’s, FTD, and Huntington’s disease, but the most common and uncommon forms of dementia are NOT passed down through genetics. 

One factor that makes it more likely a case of dementia was inherited is the age of the patient: patients who develop dementia while under the age of 50 are more likely to have inherited the condition.

Prevent and Treat Dementia With Family Medicine and Geriatric in Edinburg

Dementia can be a devastating medical condition, not just for the patient but for their entire family. Get the treatment and support you need with a visit to Family Medicine and Geriatric Clinic in Edinburg.

Our compassionate geriatric care specialists are happy to discuss your dementia risk factors and dementia prevention as well as answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

Learn more about dementia causes and prevention with a visit to the geriatric care specialists at Family Medicine and Geriatric Center.

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