What is Dementia?

Dementia is a condition that causes difficulties in a person’s thought processes such as memory and decision making. It is thought to be progressive and chronic in nature. Current estimates approximate that more than 7 million people ages 65 or older were diagnosed with dementia in 2020. Although it is common for people to have dementia as they get older, it is not a typical part of aging. Symptoms can start slowly and be mild in nature, but they can progress to be more debilitating and require people to be more dependent on others.

Common Symptoms of Dementia

  • Problems with mobility
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgement
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts, speaking, reading/writing
  • Difficulty carrying out normal tasks
  • Repeating questions
  • Getting lost/wandering
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Emotional changes such as irritability

Types of Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s disease: frequently seen in older adults, mid 60’s or older.
  • Lewy body dementia: commonly seen in adults 50 years or older and is often associated with hallucinations and changes in movement.
  • Vascular dementia: caused by conditions that obstruct the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
  • Frontotemporal dementia: usually seen in people younger than 60 years and occurs less frequently than other types of dementia.
  • Mixed dementia: having two or more types of dementia. The boundaries between different forms of dementia can be more subtle and mixed forms often co-exist.

Risk Factors of Dementia

There is no way to prevent dementia, however, there are conditions that may make people more vulnerable to illness. For example, having high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) may increase one’s risk of stroke. This is notable as many patients with vascular dementia have previously experienced strokes as shown through MRI technology. Although not everyone who has experienced a stroke will develop vascular dementia, it is important to address factors that could put one at an elevated risk.

Treatment and Care

Currently, there is no cure available for dementia. Medications and disease-modifying therapies developed have had limited effects. However, as of 2022, several new treatments are being investigated in various stages of clinical trials.
That being said, services can be offered to support and help improve the lives of people with dementia, including their caregivers and families. Main treatment goals for dementia include:

  • Early diagnosis in order to promote early and effective management
  • Optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being
  • Identifying and treating accompanying physical illness
  • Providing education for and managing behavior changes
  • Providing information and support to caregivers.
Conditions We Treat