- Dementia is a loss of cognitive ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life.
- Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a descriptive term for a collection of
symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain.
- Dementia could be:
- Static: result of a unique global brain injury.
- Progressive: resulting in long term decline due to damage or disease in the body.
Impact and Diagnosis of Dementia
- People with dementia have significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships
- They also lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, and they may experience personality changes and behavioral problems such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations.
- Doctors diagnose dementia only if there is a decline in memory coupled with a decline in one or more of the following brain functions – language skills, motor skills, abstract thinking, perception, or cognitive skills, including reasoning and judgment.
Types of Dementia
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy Body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Most common type of dementia in people aged 65 or older.
- 1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease (11%).
- 5.2 million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s.
- By 2025, over 7.1 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s.
- Every 68 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s disease usually causes a gradual decline in thinking abilities, usually during a span of 7 to 10 years.
- In this disease, abnormal protein deposits in the brain destroy cells in the areas of the brain that control memory and mental functions.
- People with Alzheimer disease also have lower-than-normal levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control important brain functions. Alzheimer disease is not reversible, and no known cure exists. However, certain medications can slow its progress.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
- FTD describes a group of diseases characterized by degeneration of nerve cells – especially those in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia usually does not include formation of amyloid plaques.
- In many people with frontotemporal dementia, there is an abnormal form of tau protein in the brain, which accumulates into neurofibrillary tangles. This disrupts normal cell activities and may cause the cells to die.
- Experts believe frontotemporal dementia accounts for 10% to 20% of all dementia cases.
The Cost of Dementia
- In 2013 direct costs for health care, long-term care, and hospice care will equal $203 billion. (Expected to be $1.2 trillion by 2050)
- In 2012, more than 15 million unpaid caregivers in the US provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care (value of $216 billion)
- The real cost:
- of loved ones
- Loss of an entire generation of wisdom