Dementia is the name given to describe the symptoms that develop when there is a decline in the function of the brain. Dementia is not just one single disease and there can be many different types that can cause it.
Here we explain in a little more detail…
Choosing the right home care provider
This can feel like a very big decision, after all, your relative’s wellbeing is effectively being put into the hands of the agency that you choose. However, there is help available to help you make the right decision. Consumer rights champions Which? provides a care services directory, which includes the latest information and rankings for home care providers. You can also find more information about agencies via the Care Quality Commission, which is the industry regulator in England, for Scotland, it is the Care Inspectorate.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and it is caused when an abnormal protein surrounds a brain cell, whilst another protein damages the internal structure. Over time the chemical connections between the brain cells are lost which causes the brain cells to die.
The first thing that is noticed in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s is deterioration in day-to-day memory but other symptoms such as finding it difficult to remember certain words, make some decisions, perceiving things in three dimensions and solving problems are also telltale signs.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s that people develop depend on the area of the brain that has been damaged by the disease.
Causes of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused when the flow of blood to the brain is reduced. When the brain cells are deprived of blood, they become damaged and eventually die.
Vascular dementia can be caused by:
- A single stroke suddenly cutting off the supply of blood to a part of the brain.
- Multiple small strokes causing small but widespread damage to the brain cells.
- The blockage and narrowing of the blood vessels inside of the brain.
Although the symptoms of a stroke sound similar to the causes of vascular dementia, not everyone who has a stroke will develop vascular dementia.
Causes of Mixed Dementia
Because Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are both common diseases – especially in the elderly – they can often be present in an individual at the same time.
When this occurs, it is called mixed dementia as it is a mixture of both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies are small lumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein that can develop inside of brain cells. These lumps of protein damage the cells and the way they work, preventing them from communicating with each other. Eventually, this causes the damaged brain cells to die.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is related closely to Parkinson’s and can often have similar symptoms which include difficulty with mobility.
Frontotemporal dementia is caused by abnormal clumping of proteins in the front and sides of the brain in the frontal and temporal lobes. The protein clumps cause nerve damage in the brain cells, eventually causing the brain cells to die. The damage in the cells leads to shrinkage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
Frontotemporal dementia is typically a cause of dementia in younger people and is more likely to run in families in comparison to the other common causes of dementia.