How Do I ?

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

1. Following the Government’s commitment in 2011 to a National Dementia Strategy, a group of inspirational people living with dementia met in Dail Eireann to tell elected Politicians what services and supports are needed to live with dementia.
For further information click here Dementia is the umbrella term used for a range of symptoms, which manifest in a decline in intellectual functioning, caused by degenerative disease of the brain. This decline in functioning can lead to a progressive deterioration in memory, intellect, judgment, language, insight and social skills. It affects the person’s ability to carry out daily activities and may also  affect their mood and personality. There are many different types of dementia but Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia are the most common forms.
The less common forms include: Lewy Body Dementia, Fronto-temporal Lobe Dementia and Pick’s Disease. Below the age of 60, dementia is rare and is often associated with a strong family history but as we age our risks increase significantly. Early diagnosis is important as treatments are available that may help some of the symptoms.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of Dementia. Although difficult to diagnose early symptoms include memory loss and misplacing things regularly, difficulty with language and everyday tasks, mood and personality changes, apathy and disorientation. Alzheimer’s disease generally progresses through three stages: mild, moderate and severe.

VASCULAR  DEMENTIA (MULTI  INFRACT  DEMENTIA)

Caused by small or mini strokes that may be so small that they go undetected, but eventually results in a deterioration of cognitive function. It’s more prevalent in men and less common after the age of 75. It may also coexist with Alzheimer’s disease.

LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

This is a type of dementia, with a range of features including symptoms similar  to Parkinson’s Disease such as tremor, shuffling gait, rigidity and hallucinations, especially visual. People with this type  of dementia are sensitive to neuroleptics, which are anti-psychotic medications.

FRONTO-TEMPORAL DEMENTIA (FTD)

A rare degenerative condition caused by damage to the frontal lobe and/or temporal parts of the brain. The areas of the brain affected by FTD are control, reasoning, personality, movement, speech, language and behaviour. FTD tends to affect younger people, i.e. those under the age of 65 and personality and behavioural changes are typical characteristics of the disease.

PICK’S DISEASE

An inherited form of Fronto-Temporal Dementia, it affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and onset is usually between 40 and 65 years of age. There is a gradual dissolution of language in the first two years. People are usually aware of this deficit and are adept at covering it up but later traits such as neglect of personal hygiene, loss of insight, apathy or obsession traits may develop.

If you are worried that a family member may be experiencing the early symptoms of dementia, you should contact your General Practitioner (GP).