Dementia is a major health problem among older adults that becomes increasingly common with advancing age. By age 85 it is estimated that approximately 50% will have dementia. People with dementia have a decline in memory as well as impairment in one of the following areas: language, perception, calculation, judgment, and problem solving skills. Due to this decline people with dementia will have problems socially, in their jobs, as well as problems with daily living such as cooking, driving, and financial management
Dementia isn’t a disease, it is a symptom caused by many different problems.
The 2 major causes of dementia are:
In the brain of the person with Alzheimer’s Disease there is progressive death of the nerve tissue and replacement with abnormal neurofibrillary plaques and tangles. These plaques occur throughout the brain causing problems in all areas of function. It is unknown what starts this process or why it happens.
In the brain of the person with vascular dementia there is a very different process. Vascular dementia refers to dementia that is the result of a brain attack (stroke). The stroke could have been due to a blood clot (embolic) or bleed (hemorrhagic). The dementia that results following the stroke is sudden unlike Alzheimer’s dementia. Often however people sustain multiple small strokes over time so the dementia is progressive and often hard to distinguish from Alzheimer’s dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation offers information on the disease as well as multiple resources for diagnosis and treatment. On Long Island the Alzheimer’s Foundation offers quarterly classes held at various locations as well as several day long “Coping and Caring” Conferences. In addition support groups are sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Foundation both for the caregiver and the patient.
Works cited: Geriatrics at your Fingertips. Reuben, et al. 2002.
For additional information, please call (631) 444-4000.