The reason why dementia is increasing is simple given existing population demographics. Given that more and more people are reaching an elderly age (because of increased nutrition knowledge and medical treatments), it follows that more and more people will get dementia. Approximately 60-80% of all dementia cases are Alzheimer’s disease. More people die from Alzheimer’s disease than diabetes and the number of people with the disease will soon pass 10 million and continue to climb. In addition, a 3rd of all Americans will be affected by dementia because of having to care for friends or family members.
Types of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, followed by Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and Fronto-temporal dementia (which only forms approximately 5% of dementia cases). It’s also important to note that dementia can arise from other causes:
- Head Injuries
- Brain Tumors
- Infections in the Brain
- Lack of Oxygen
- Vascular diseases or disorders like cerebral artery infarcts which block blood from getting to the brain.
Dementia causes a gradual decline in memory, a decline in thinking and reasoning, as well as general apathy towards planning future events that gets progressively worse. Unfortunately researchers have yet to find a cure for dementia. The inability to think and behave rationally also leads to social isolation as those who suffer from dementia often lose life-long friends because of their erratic behavior.
People who suffer from dementia suffer from organic brain deterioration and progressive brain cell death. In contrast to Parkinson’s, people with Parkinson’s disease began losing brain cells rapidly in the part of the brain that’s responsible for the disease. With dementia, approximately a third of the people who die from the disease will have no physical symptoms of the disease when a brain autopsy is performed.
Contributing Factors to Getting Dementia
All of the following diseases contribute to compromising the vascular system and thus leading to vascular dementia:
- Heart Disease
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
There is No Cure for Dementia, Nor is Dementia Preventable
Many people don’t realize it now but they will someday have to be a caretaker for someone in their family who has Alzheimer’s disease. Many people unfortunately do not take steps to prepare for the possibility of someone in their family getting Alzheimer’s disease. Looking at dementia from the viewpoint of healthcare professionals, they always stress the importance of working with the whole family (instead of the isolated Alzheimer’s patient) when treating the disease. Aside from getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet and giving your brain some daily exercise (like doing crosswords and reading), there is no way to completely prevent dementia.