Dementia

Dementia

Dementia
Dementia refers to loss of cognitive function that affects memory along with the ability to think, solve problems and control emotions. Dementia itself is not a disease, but describes a group of symptoms caused by a brain disorder. There are numerous causes of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, Huntingdon's disease and stroke. Since personality changes are common, living with dementia can be difficult for patients and caregivers alike. Learn more about dementia challenges and solutions with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    Dementia rarely affects children, but it is possible. While the disorder normally affects adults, there are certain causes like infection or poisoning that can cause dementia in anyone at any age. There are also several diseases that may lead to dementia in children including Batten disease, Lafora body disease and Niemann-Pick disease. Unfortunately, both Batten disease and Lafora body disease tend to be fatal. Several other conditions can lead to dementia in children as well, even though it is extremely rare. If you believe your child is experiencing symptoms of dementia, it is important to talk to your doctor right away.

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    While it is usually found in adults, dementia can also occur in children. For example, infections and poisoning can lead to dementia in people of any age. In addition, some disorders unique to children can cause dementia.

    Niemann-Pick disease is a group of inherited disorders that affect metabolism and are caused by specific genetic mutations. Patients with Niemann-Pick disease cannot properly metabolize cholesterol and other lipids. Consequently, excessive amounts of cholesterol accumulate in the liver and spleen and excessive amounts of other lipids accumulate in the brain. Symptoms may include dementia, confusion, and problems with learning and memory. These diseases usually begin in young school-age children but may also appear during the teen years or early adulthood.

    Batten disease is a fatal hereditary disorder of the nervous system that begins in childhood. Symptoms are linked to a buildup of substances called lipopigments in the body's tissues. The early symptoms include personality and behavior changes, slow learning, clumsiness, or stumbling. Over time, affected children suffer mental impairment, seizures, and progressive loss of sight and motor skills. Eventually, children with Batten disease develop dementia and become blind and bedridden. The disease is often fatal by the late teens or twenties.

    Lafora body disease is a rare genetic disease that causes seizures, rapidly progressive dementia, and movement problems. These problems usually begin in late childhood or the early teens. Children with Lafora body disease have microscopic structures called Lafora bodies in the brain, skin, liver, and muscles. Most affected children die within 2 to 10 years after the onset of symptoms.

    A number of other childhood-onset disorders can include symptoms of dementia. Among these are mitochondrial myopathies, Rasmussen's encephalitis, mucopolysaccharidosis III (Sanfilippo syndrome), neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation, and leukodystrophies such as Alexander disease, Schilder's disease, and metachromatic leukodystrophy.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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    People with dementia can still engage in familiar activities -- although you’ll likely have to tweak them in some way. Many activities can be done one-on-one in the home environment; others can involve family members, including intergenerational activities. 
    • Prepare any necessary supplies in advance.
    • Find pastimes that were meaningful to the person prior to the disease.
    • Engage in activities that pose a reasonable chance of success, by taking into consideration a person’s current abilities.
    • Tap into over-learned skills, such as appropriate household chores or work-oriented activities.
    • Plan activities that are short in length and age-appropriate.
    • Keep the environment free of distractions.
    • Include activities with a sense of structure, which provides reassurance.
    • Give directions that are simple and one step at a time, and include non-verbal cues.
    • Limit choices. If you’re going for a walk around the block, allow the person to decide whether you start to the left or right, for instance.
    • Keep conversations structured and familiar, such as holiday celebrations and music icons.
    • Adjust the activity, based on a person’s verbal and non-verbal responses.
    • Validate any frustrations and try restructuring the activity.
    • Take a multi-sensory approach, especially as sensory functions start to decline.
    • Plan intergenerational activities that foster helping behaviors and are developmentally appropriate for the child and engaging for the person with dementia, and choose a time when both participants will be at their best (for example, after a meal).
    • Be patient and flexible.
    • Focus on enjoyment, not achievement.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    A study reveals that obesity can put people older than 60 at greater risk for dementia. The good news is we have some tips that can spare your aging brain from weight-gain brain-drain:
    • Take a walk for at least 45 minutes a day, six days a week. Also do strength-building exercises two to three days a week. It's especially good for you if you're advanced in your years and out of shape.
    • Add friends, family, and lovers to your social mix -- face to face, not using FaceTime on your cell phone. Loneliness is associated with everything from higher blood pressure and less happiness to weight gain.
    • Substitute heart-stopping saturated fats (think burgers) with healthy fats, such as salmon or monounsaturated olive oil. Losing weight is about healthy eating, not starving.
    • Combine these steps with my secret for weight control: walnuts and almonds. Starting a meal with six walnut halves or 12 almonds can help you shrink belly fat by 50%. The walnuts are good for your brain and heart, too, so go nuts (and have a fun-filled -- and longer -- life)!
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    A Neurology, answered on behalf of
    There are not any medications that have been proven to prevent dementia. There was a study showing that the antidepressant Celexa was helpful in preventing decline, but in terms of preventing onset, unfortunately, there is nothing at this point that can do that.
     
    It’s important to consider that there are different types of dementia. There’s dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is caused by vascular changes in the brain. Similar to the way that plaques in the vessels of the heart can cause heart disease, plaques in the vessels of the brain can cause inflammation leading to vascular dementia. There is also dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease.
     
    Doctors know that physical activity, a good diet and possibly mental stimulation can be helpful in preventing cognitive decline from converting to dementia. It is also important, for example, for somebody who has vascular risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes to keep those conditions under control with medications and lifestyle. This can actually improve the course of dementia, especially vascular dementia.
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    Exercise appears to help prevent dementia in seniors, according to experts. Seniors who are sedentary suffer a 50 percent higher risk of developing dementia than seniors who regularly engage in moderate or vigorous exercise, according to a study in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
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    A healthy body can help maintain a healthy mind. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes that is out of control, you are at a greater risk of experiencing dementia.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    You control the major factors for memory loss, Alzheimer's and cognitive dysfunction. Changing just a few daily habits cuts your threat from these brain thieves in half. Old age and dementia do not have to go hand in hand. Take as many of these steps as you need and enjoy keeping all your marbles.
    • Quit smoking.
    • Get active.
    • Get smarter. Brain work makes you sharper forever and improves your job odds in tough times.
    • Brighten up. Fight bouts of depression.
    • Control hypertension, obesity and diabetes.
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered
    Walking a bit every day may help prevent dementia. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh discovered a link between walking more and better mental function in old age. The research group began following the physical and cognitive activities of 300 older adults, with an average age of 78.

    After charting the group's walking habits for nine years, each participant was given a brain scan. All were declared to be in good cognitive health. Four years later, roughly one-third of the group members had developed dementia, according to the study. Researchers discovered a correlation between the distance a person walks and the preservation of the gray matter of the brain.

    Those who walked roughly six to nine miles per week had better gray matter preservation. The study does not prove that walking causes the preservation of cognitive function, only that those who walk appear to have better preserved mental acuity.
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    There are ways to modify the risk factors for dementia. You can quit smoking. You can maintain a healthy weight. You can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. You can keep mentally sharp with word games and crossword puzzles. All of these measures may help to reduce your potential for dementia or delay its arrival.