What is dementia? Symptoms, stages, types, and more

Dementia describes various symptoms of cognitive decline, like forgetfulness and difficulty communicating. Dementia is a symptom of several underlying conditions and brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is a general term for symptoms affecting memory, communication, and thinking. Although the likelihood of having dementia increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging.

Types and causes of dementiaTrusted Source include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia, which may occur with Parkinson’s disease
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • mixed dementia

This informative article delves into the various factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, as well as the available methods for treatment.

Individuals suffering from these cognitive impairments may experience a range of symptoms including memory loss, confusion, and alterations in mood, which generally worsen over time.

For further insight regarding how these symptoms may affect older adults, be sure to check out this informational page. Additionally, the World Health Organization has categorized dementia into three stages: early, middle, and late; all of which can be explored in greater detail right here.

Dementia types

Types of dementia include these.

Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease causes dementia in 70-80% of cases due to changes in brain cell proteins, leading to memory, language, and perception problems.
Lewy body dementia

Lewy body dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder that arises from the presence of abnormal deposits of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain.

In addition, individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease may exhibit Lewy bodies and develop dementia symptoms.

Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick’s disease, is a type of dementia that causes damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

This damage is caused by the accumulation of abnormal proteins, which can lead to changes in behavior, language, or both. Despite its relatively rare occurrence, it is the second most common form of dementia in people under the age of 65.

Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease causes uncontrolled movements, dementia, difficulty focusing, irritability, impulsivity, and depression, plus problems with multitasking and planning.

Mixed dementia

A person may have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia simultaneously.

Early symptoms

Early symptoms of dementia can manifest in a variety of ways, including forgetfulness that interferes with daily life, changes in mood that may be uncharacteristic of the individual, confusion when faced with familiar tasks or environments, and difficulty completing everyday activities. These symptoms may be mild at first, but can progress if left untreated.

It is important to seek medical attention if these symptoms are present, as early intervention may help slow the progression of the disease.

Dementia causes

Dementia can result from various causes, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s, head injuries, stroke, tumors, and other factors. It is worth noting that repetitive traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of developing dementia but it is not the only factor.

Additionally, there are other conditions with similar symptoms such as drug use, infections, depression, vitamin deficiencies, and thyroid problems that can also lead to cognitive decline.

It is important to be aware of these potential causes and seek appropriate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of dementia.

Dementia tests

Assessment usually involves a number of questions and tasks. The following sections will explore these in more detail.

Cognitive dementia tests

Doctors often use various tests to diagnose dementia. These may include asking questions about age, time, address, and more, as well as taking into account family observations.

If memory loss is suspected, further tests such as blood tests and CT scans may be necessary. One common test, the mini-mental state exam, can diagnose Alzheimer’s and assess the severity of the condition to determine appropriate treatment.

Mini-Cog test

During a routine check-up, your doctor may conduct a brief assessment known as the Mini-Cog test. This test typically involves three tasks: recalling three specific words, drawing a clock face, and then recalling the three words again. If the results show a score of 3-4 or lower, it could potentially indicate symptoms of dementia.

This simple and non-invasive test can help to detect potential cognitive issues early on, allowing for earlier intervention and treatment if necessary.

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