What are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating brain disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is a progressive condition that impacts memory, thinking and behavior and is the most common cause of dementia. 

Dementia is a broad term that describes a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline in mental ability. It affects memory, thinking, problem-solving, social skills and language. 

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including memory loss, difficulty in organizing thoughts, problems with problem-solving, impaired ability to communicate, impaired motor skills, confusion, disorientation, and behavioral changes.

The cause of dementia varies, although age is the most common risk factor, and the condition typically affects people over 65. Other risk factors for dementia may include a family history of dementia, lifestyle, head injury, and other health conditions such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease.

The management of dementia aims to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. This may include medications, therapies, lifestyle changes, and strategies for dealing with behaviors associated with dementia. 

Medication can help reduce some symptoms and slow down the condition’s progress. Treatments such as occupational therapy and music therapy may also be recommended. 

It is also essential to create a calm and supportive environment for the person with dementia, which can include providing secure and familiar surroundings and activities to engage them daily. Finally, it is important to educate family members and other caregivers about how to best care for the person with dementia. 

Alzheimer’s (dementia) disease is characterized by the buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain. These proteins accumulate between and inside nerve cells, disrupting brain cell function and eventually killing them. 

As mentioned, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Exercise may help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and prevention strategies of Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s 

 The symptoms of Alzheimer’s typically begin with memory loss and difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as forgetting names or misplacing objects. Changes in mood or behavior, such as becoming easily agitated or withdrawing from social activities, may accompany early symptoms. 

Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may stop showing up to family gatherings, hobbies, clubs, and friend hangouts. As the disease progresses, affected individuals may experience difficulty speaking, swallowing, and coordinating movement. 

These symptoms can significantly affect a person’s ability to do daily tasks and can lower the quality of their life. People with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones should be aware of these symptoms and see a doctor as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s 

There are several known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most significant risk factors for the disease is aging. Alzheimer’s risk increases with age, with most cases occurring in people over 65. 

Furthermore, individuals with a parent, sibling or child with the disease are more likely to develop the condition. In addition to age and family history, genetic mutations have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are concerned about developing Alzheimer’s, you may be interested in getting tested for these genetic mutations. 

Genetic testing for Alzheimer’s is generally not recommended for people without symptoms, as the test results may not provide helpful information about a person’s risk of developing the disease. However, if you have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other risk factors, you may discuss the potential benefits and limitations of genetic testing with your healthcare provider. 

Genetic testing for Alzheimer’s is done through a blood or saliva test. The test results may help you and your primary care provider make informed decisions about your health. The preferred way to test for Alzheimer’s is the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). It is a brief, standardized test commonly used to assess cognitive function, particularly memory and attention.

Reducing your Alzheimer’s risk 

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are steps that people can take to lower their risk of getting the disease. These steps include:

  1. Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in plant-based foods, fish, and healthy fats, may be good for brain health.
  2. Staying physically active: There are a few ways that exercise may help lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which may help provide nutrients to brain cells and support their growth and survival. Physical activity may reduce inflammation in the brain and increase the production of chemicals involved in learning and memory. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week.
  3. Staying mentally and socially active: Engaging in activities that challenge the brain, such as reading, puzzles, and learning new skills, may help improve brain function and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Staying socially active by maintaining relationships and participating in group activities also protects brain health.
  4. Managing chronic conditions: Alzheimer’s risk increases with chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Managing these conditions through lifestyle changes and prescription medication may help reduce the risk of developing the disease. 

Following these steps may reduce the risk of developing the condition and improve brain health. While managing Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging, individuals with dementia can live meaningful lives with the proper care and support. 

Nathan Keller B.S., is a certified dermatology technician at Crutchfield Dermatology with a degree in biology, society and environment from the University of Minnesota. As a former men’s soccer team member, he is dedicated to combating health inequities and is currently applying to medical school. At Crutchfield Dermatology he is passionate about providing high-quality care to patients from all backgrounds.

4 Comments on “What are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?”

  1. My husband was diagnosed of Parkinsons disease 2 years ago, when he was 49. He had a stooped posture, tremors, right arm does not move and also a pulsating feeling in his body. He was placed on Senemet for 8 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet, during this time span he was also diagnosed with dementia. He started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from Health Care HERBAL CENTRE, his symptoms totally declined over a 3 weeks use of the Health Care HERBAL Parkinsons disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 51 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! (Visit http://www.healthcareherbalcentre.com)

  2. I had severe tremors and mobility issues due to Parkinson disease, the medications I was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments and came across Parkinson’s Herbal Treatment from VineHealth Center. Few months into the treatment my symptoms including tremors, tiredness and muscle weakness improved dramatically. (Go to vinehealth center. c om), I have regained mobility and I have also resumed exercising to strengthen muscles

    1. My grandma has Parkinson’s disease, she is about 75 years old it was detected 7 years ago. Right now it’s getting more difficult to live for her, because of stiff muscles she can’t even move. L-dopa and carbidopa medicines are given, but won”t give much relief. She can”t eat food and the skin is damaging forming ganglia. I thought this might be the last stage and the medications she was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments and came across Parkinson’s Herbal Treatment from Health Herbs Clinic , the treatment has made a very huge difference for her. Her symptoms including body weakness and her tremors disappeared after few months on the treatment. She is getting active again since starting this treatment, she is able to walk again ( down the street and back ) and able to ride her treadmill again. God Bless all PD Caregivers. Stay Strong, take small moments throughout the day to thank yourself, to love your self, and pray to whatever faith, star, spiritual force you believe in and ask for strength.

  3. I had severe tremors and mobility issues due to Parkinson disease, the medications I was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments and came across Parkinson’s Herbal Treatment from VineHealth Center. Few months into the treatment my symptoms including tremors, tiredness and muscle weakness improved dramatically. (Go to vine health center. c o m)…

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