Short answer: Dementia is an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain, creating a decline in effective thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease, alcohol related dementia (Korsakoff’s syndrome) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia and can be either sporadic or familial.
· Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but usually occurs after age 65 and is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.
· Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a very rare genetic condition, caused by a mutation in one of several genes. The presence of mutated genes means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their 40s or 50s.
Vascular Dementia is a form of dementia that develops because of problems with the blood’s circulation to the brain. It is the second most common form of dementia. There are two types of vascular dementia, multi-infarct dementia and Binswanger’s disease.
· Multi-infarct dementia – is a common form of vascular dementia caused by several strokes which damage the brain’s cortex, the area responsible for learning, memory and language.
· Binswanger’s disease – or subcortical vascular dementia develops when high blood pressure, thickening of the arteries and inadequate blood flow damage the “white matter” in the brain.
Huntington’s disease is a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It has a broad impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorder.
Alcohol related dementia (Korskoff’s disease), as the name suggests, is a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder. It affects about one in every one million people per year worldwide. CJD usually appears in later life around 60 years of age and about 70% of individuals affected by CJD, die within one year.
Can Alzheimer’s and other dementias be prevented or cured?
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the biggest concerns many of us have as we get older. Promising research shows that there are steps you can take to both reduce your risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias or slow the process of deterioration if you’ve already been diagnosed.
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. However there are seven pillars for a brain-healthy lifestyle that are within your control.
· Regular exercise
· Social engagement
· Mental stimulation
· Quality sleep
The more you strengthen each of the seven pillars in your daily life, the longer and stronger your brain will stay working. You’ll also be better able to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia or delay the onset of more severe symptoms.
Here at WLC Medical, our physiotherapist Adam can assist you to stay active, also contributing to a better quality sleep. Our dietitian Andrea can guide and assist you with your gut health, which can benefit your stress management, reduced risk of vascular disease and help maintain a healthy diet/lifestyle. Contact visits with our psychologist Dave can help with reducing mental stress and achieving a better mindset toward a healthier lifestyle.