What Causes Dementia?

Understanding Dementia and the Factors That Can Cause the Condition 

Sadly, about 5 million people in the United States suffer from the condition known as dementia. If this data isn’t shocking enough, current trends have forecasted that those numbers are expected to increase as the population continues to age. 

Specifically, 1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 10 men will develop dementia after the age of 55. 

Here at Family Medicine & Geriatric Center, we recognize that dementia is not the easiest condition to understand and that there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to taking care of your loved one who may be living with the ailment.

Let our geriatric clinical specialist provide you with more information about dementia, its causes, and what can be done to help minimize its effects.    

The Basics of Dementia & Its Causes

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the loss of memory, language skills, problem-solving capabilities and various other thinking abilities. 

What generally causes dementia are damaged brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other and form new synapses. When these connections begin to fail, “normal” levels of communication, thinking, memory, behavior and feelings are affected. 

Signs and symptoms of dementia can vary, and may include:

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Keeping track of personal belongings
  • Paying and staying on track with bills
  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Remembering important dates
  • Traveling out of the house or neighborhood

One of the most important things to remember is that dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms of dementia will gradually worsen.

The Different Types of Dementia

A common misconception is that dementia is a single disease, but in reality, there are numerous forms of dementia. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and accounts for 60-80% of cases. The second most common is vascular dementia, which is when there is microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain. 

Additionally, some sufferers may have a form of mixed dementia. This is when the brain endures multiple types of dementia simultaneously.

Some of the most prominent forms of dementia, aside from Alzheimer’s, include: 

  • Lewy Body
  • Frontotemporal
  • Parkinson’s
  • Huntington’s

Diagnosis and Treating Dementia

When it comes to dementia, there is no single test that can determine whether or not an individual is indeed suffering from the condition. 

A specialist doctor will need to thoroughly examine the sufferer’s medical history, complete a physical examination, laboratory tests, as well as analyze characteristic changes in thinking and day-to-day functions and behavior. 

The treatment of dementia will depend primarily on the main cause of dementia. In most cases, there is no cure, but there is medication that can help improve symptoms temporarily. Another alternative to consider is non-drug therapies, which have been proven to alleviate some symptoms of dementia.

Can Dementia Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to prevent dementia, especially as age and genetics play critical roles in determining if an individual will suffer from the condition. However, there are measures you can take to decrease your risk, including living a healthy lifestyle. 

Adopting positive life choices can include eating healthy, working out 3 to 4 times a week, and incorporating cognitive stimulation for brain health. By taking care of your body, your body will take care of you. 

Geriatric Clinical Specialists in the Rio Grande Valley

If you believe a loved one may be suffering from dementia, it’s vital that you help them seek out medical attention immediately. Your health is of the utmost importance, and our team at Family Medicine & Geriatric Center is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding dementia.