Dementia: Understand the Facts
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Not all older people get dementia, but most people with dementia are older. 1 in 6 people 65 and older, and more than half of people 85 and older are living with dementia. It is more common after the age of 65, but dementia can happen to anyone. People in their 30s, 40s, or 50s can also have dementia.
Not all dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The causes of dementia depend on the types of brain changes that may be taking place in the human body. There are various disorders and factors that can contribute to developing symptoms of dementia.
Neurocognitive disorders are progressive and result in irreversible loss of neurons and brain functions. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, some of the neurodegenerative disorders that cause irreversible dementia are vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia (LBD), frontotemporal disorders (FTD), and Parkinson’s disease.
Other factors or conditions that can be responsible for dementia or dementia-like symptoms include: side effects of medicines, chronic alcoholism, infections or tumors in the brain, vitamin B12 deficiency, depression, thyroid or endocrine problems, electrolyte problems, dehydration, normal pressure hydrocephalus, head injury, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Acute or chronic pain, lack of sleep, and constipation are some common conditions that cause discomfort and can make dementia symptoms worse. An estimated 5 – 15% of all dementias are due to potentially reversible causes. An early and accurate evaluation is critical to identify any potentially reversible causes of dementia.
The more we know about dementia, the better able we are to help the people who are living with it and those who care about them.
How can YOU help break down the myths that stigmatize dementia?