I was just about to start writing this post, when I saw a facebook post regarding a tweet from back in April written by the infamous Katie Hopkins that ‘Dementia sufferers should not be blocking beds. What is the point of life when you no longer know you are living it!!
What is Dementia?
Dementia is caused by certain diseases which affect the brain and can appear in each individual person in different ways. Dementia symptoms get worse as time progresses BUT it is not caused by old age, and is not a normal part of the ageing process.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary from problems with memory, being more confused, perception, thinking, language and difficulty in judging distances. Behaviour can also be altered by Dementia with changes in moods or emotions.
What are the different types of Dementia?
Dementia has many different types, with the most common being Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia. These types can often be combined and are knowns as mixed dementia.
Alzheimers – this type of dementia is probably the most common and alters the chemistry and structure of the brain which results in the death of brain cells. Alzheimers also leads to a shortage of certain chemicals in the brain which affects the sending of signals.
There are some common symptoms of Alzheimers, but it is unlikely that two people with Alzheimers will experience the condition in the same way. Symptoms include memory lapses, which tend to affect new memories and new learning, and older memories can stay intact.
Around 520,000 people in the UK have Alzheimers.
For more information click here for the Alzheimers factsheet.
Vascular Dementia – This occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen and, as a result of this, brain cells die. This type of dementia can occur suddenly for e.g. by a stroke, or over a period of type through a series of small ‘mini’ strokes. Not everyone who suffers a stroke will suffer from Vascular Dementia but it occurs in over 20% of stroke sufferers.
Some symptoms of Vascular Dementia are similar to that of Alzheimers, however, memory loss is not usually the first or main sign. The most common symptoms are problems making decisions or solving problems, slower thought processes and problems concentrating. People with Vascular Dementia can also develop a change in mood and emotional states with depression being quite common in sufferers.
Vascular Dementia affects around 150,000 people in the UK.
For more information click here for the Vascular Dementia factsheet.
A less common form of Dementia is:
Dementia with Lewy Bodies – These are tiny spherical structures develop inside nerve cells which leads to brain tissue degeneration. Dementia with Lewy Bodies shares symptoms with both Alzheimers and Parkinsons Disease and accounts for around 10% of Dementia cases.
Along with showing symptoms of Alzheimers and Parksinsons, those with Dementia with Lewy Bodies can also have hallucinations, problems with attention and alertness. They may have also have problems with judging distances and perception of objects.
The fact that hallucinations are a symptom of Dementia with Lewy bodies may also explain the fact that some sufferers will also have delusional symptoms, which can be very distressing to family members.
Around two-thirds of people with Dementia with Lewy Bodies also have affected movement, which is related to the Parkinsons Disease side of the illness. Problems with movement can be slowness, stiffness, trembling and balance issues.
For more information click here for the Dementia with Lewy Bodies factsheet
I hope this has given you an insight into the types and symptoms of Dementia. If you require any further information then please go the Alzheimers Society website here
Next week is Dementia Awareness Week, so I will be focusing on how you can get involved with this.
Note: After writing this post, my Grandad, who suffered with Dementia, past away peacefully. I do hope that this series of posts really helps those families who are affected by Dementia.