According to the World Health Organization, dementia affects around 50 million people worldwide and there are about 10 million new cases every year. Dementia disproportionately affects older people and is one of the major causes of disability and dependency for them worldwide.
Dementia is a brain condition and syndrome that contributes to the progressive loss of cognitive functioning, thinking remember, and reasoning. Dementia isn’t a specific disease but rather a group of symptoms that affect these functions. When it comes to dementia, most people are aware of it because of Alzheimer’s disease which makes sense as Alzheimer’s is the most common form of progressive dementia in older adults. However, there are a number of other forms of of the disease, for instance Lewy Body Dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Lewy Body Dementia is the third most common form of dementia, accounting for 10 to 25 percent of cases. Other lesser known forms of dementia include Vascular Dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia. While all dementias are similar in their effects on the brain and body, as most have major effects of memory loss, the causes of these diseases is normally what distinguishes them from one another.
What is Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy Body Dementia is a form of of the condition that leads to decline in thinking, reasoning, and independent function. Lewy Body dementia affects more than one million people in the United States. Like other forms of dementia, Lewy Body Disease is more prominent in individuals over the age of 50 but is sometimes seen in younger people. Lewy Body Dementia also appears to affect slightly more men than women.
Like most forms of dementia, Lewy Body Dementia symptoms starts slow and grow worse over time.The disease normally lasts between 5 to 8 years from diagnosis to death but can last up to 20 years depending on a number of factors including age, health and severity of symptoms.
At first, Lewy Body Dementia symptoms are mild and people can function normally, however, as the disease continues there is an increased decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the late stages of the disease, people will generally require assistance or care in order to carry on with their daily lives.
What are Lewy Bodies
Lewy Bodies are named after German neurologist Dr. Friederich Lewy. Lewy discovered a abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning in people with Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Lewy bodies affect several different brain regions during Lewy Body Dementia, including:
- The cerebral cortex
- The limbic cortex
- The hippocampus
- The midbrain and basal ganglia
- The brain stem
Lewy bodies are composed of a protein called alpha-synuclein. In a normal, healthy brain alpha-synuclein plays an important role in the neurons of the brain, where brain cells communicate. But in Lewy Body Dementia, alpha-synuclein forms into clumps inside neurons, causing them to work less effectively and die. Eventually, the result is major damage to brain regions and a decline in the ability of those regions.
Vascular dementia, like other forms of dementia, affect reasoning, planning, and memory. It is different in that it is caused by brain damage from lack of or impaired blood flow to the brain.
This type of dementia can be caused after a stroke blocks an artery to the brain. However, it can also result from the other conditions that damage blood vessels and reduce circulation, this lack of blood flow deprive the brain of oxygen and nutrients.
Your risk of developing vascular dementia increases form many factors, including:
- History of heart attack or strokes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
However, some preventative measures that you can take to reduce your risk of being diagnosed with some form of dementia include staying active, maintaining physical exercise and quitting smoking.
According to the Mayo Clinic, frontotemporal dementia is an umbrella term for a group of uncommon disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, areas that are associated with personality, behavior, and language. When affected by frontotemporal dementia, portions of the lobes shrink and the respective portions of the brain are affected.
Some people who are affected by frontotemporal dementia, undergo many changes and at times can become socially inappropriate, impulsive or emotionally indifferent. Some even lose the ability to use language. Frontotemporal dementia is also characterized by problems with movement, similar to those associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Signs and symptoms for this type of dementia can progressively worsen over time, generally over a number of years. Eventually, those affected will require 24-hour care.
The cause of frontotemporal dementia is normally unknown. However, researchers have found that the risk of developing this type of dementia is higher if you have a family history of dementia.
Treatment and Support
As is the case with most forms of dementia, there is no known cure that can slow or stop the brain cell damage caused by Lewy Body Dementia. However, there are treatment plans that you participate in that includes medication for helping fight the symptoms associated with the illness.
Medication specifications will likely change depending on what type of dementia that a patient is suffering from. For example, if someone is diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia they may be prescribed medication that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease that are important for memory, thought and judgement. But, if someone is dealing with vascular dementia, a doctor may prescribe medication to lower blood pressure or reduce cholesterol.
Dementia comes in many forms and there is currently no known cure ot the problem. Dementia can affect an individual’s cognitive functions like memory, thinking, and reasoning. Being diagnosed with a form of dementia can make living alone a difficult thing. However, there are many independent and assisted living facilities that can help senior citizens as they struggle with issues like these. Landmark Senior Living is available today to take you and your loved one for a tour at one of our seven premier and affordable communities. Please call for more information.