Senile dementia

Some form of dementia affects millions of people every year and while research has revealed much about these disorders, there is still a long way to go. Senile dementia isn’t actually a specific disease but is just a term to cover a variety of symptoms affecting the brain. People who experience any form of dementia will have impaired intellectual functioning to the point that it interferes with their daily living. Memory loss is a common symptom but others can be cognitive decline, emotional control, personality changes, behavioral difficulties and even delusions and hallucinations. There must be at least two brain functions affected in order to reach a diagnosis of dementia.

For many years, dementia was thought to be a normal part of the aging process since it is much more common in the elderly. However, that didn’t explain why there are many people who never develop any dementia symptoms, even when living into their 90s or beyond. While some cognitive impairment is natural during aging, it is not normal to be impaired to the point that those with different types of dementia become.

The most prevalent form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease(AD). In most sufferers, symptoms don’t begin to appear until they are over 60 but early onset forms of AD can strike as young as 30 years old. This devastating disease causes brain functions to decline gradually, generally taking close to a decade to affect all functions. With the early onset variations of the disease, there is a link to a genetic defect but the causes of most forms are still largely unknown although research has made some progress.

Another common cause of dementia is vascular dementia which is most often caused by a stroke or other cerebrovascular event that causes brain damage. The risks for this type of dementia do increase with age as the vascular system becomes weakened or damaged through time. Unlike AD, symptoms of vascular dementia typically come on all of a sudden, It is usually not a progressive disease and can actually improve given the right therapies. One of the most common things found in those with this form of dementia is the tendency to wander at night.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is caused by cells in the brain dying within the cerebral cortex and a central part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The disease is named for the abnormalities known as Lewy bodies that can be found in the brain. With this disorder, protein builds up within the nerve cells but science has not determined why this happens. Sufferers experience the cognitive decline but are often also characterized by a flexed posture and shuffling gait. Hallucinations are also quite common to victims of LBD.

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a form of dementia that usually hits younger people in their 30s or 40s. HD is one of the few forms of dementia where scientists have identified the cause which is an abnormal gene protein. Because it is genetic, those with a parent who was diagnosed with HD have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease themselves. Symptoms generally start with minor personality changes such as anxiety and irritability but progresses to full blown dementia within a few years. HD also causes physical symptoms like muscle weakness and involuntary movement.

These are just a few of the types of senile dementia that have been identified. Some of them do have treatments that can help slow the progress of the disease while others have no known treatments. The best thing you can do if you suspect that someone you love may have any form of dementia is to get to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis as the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of any treatments being effective.

Last updated on Nov 14th, 2009 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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