By Stephanie Osuba
Everyone fears that they, or their family members, will fall victim to a degenerative neurological disease when they age. Dementia is considered a syndrome, a series of symptoms that often appear together, and is caused by damage to the brain cells. Symptoms include memory loss, cognitive impairment, and diminishing language. Here are five facts that you need to know about dementia.
- Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia; they aren’t interchangeable: As stated above, dementia is a syndrome and more of an umbrella term for other types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and vascular dementia. Different types of dementia correlate with different types of brain damage. Alzheimer’s is mainly a result of abnormally high protein levels in and around brain cells that inhibit communication between them. This eventually leads to the death of the nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
- Dementia is not just a “memory loss” disease: Dementia also affects a wide range of cognition processes including: learning, language, executive and motor function, attention, and social cognition. For example, two thirds of diagnoses of Alzheimer’s are given to women primarily because they exhibit the symptom of memory loss more than men.
- Cognitive decline doesn’t always lead to dementia: Memory and other cognitive issues can be a result of other things such as: delirium, mild cognitive impairment, or normal changes due to age. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic, even mild cognitive impairment only lead to dementia in 29% of cases within the next five years.
- Not all types of dementias are progressive: Underlying causes such as vitamin B12 deficiency, underactive thyroid syndrome, and normal pressure hydrocephalus can be reversed with treatment. Even medications like antidepressants, narcotics, and antihistamines can have dementia-like side effects.
- Lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of dementia: Exercise has proven to be a great defense to cognitive decline through increased heart rate and blood flow to the brain. Maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in social activities is also a huge help.
Source: Ph.D., M. C. (2017, December 7). 5 Facts You Need to Know About Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fifth-vital-sign/201712/5-facts-you-need-know-about-dementia
If you or someone you know needs help coping with the dementia of a family member, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.