Dementia is a progressive brain disease that interferes with a person’s ability to carry out daily living activities because of cognitive and behavioral abnormalities. It’s thought to affect as many as 50 percent of people over 85. Dementia may be one condition, but it has multiple causes. Examples include: Alzheimer’s, primary progressive aphasia, development of Lewy bodies or from vascular disease. Alzheimer’s is the primary cause, and this kind of dementia is always progressive. Some medications may slow the cognitive decline.
Vascular dementia can be caused by a single stroke, but more commonly it’s the result of multiple strokes or TIAs (sometimes referred to as multi-infarct dementia). Stroke dementia is not always progressive, particularly if the underlying cause of the strokes or TIAs can be identified and treated.
Dementia encompasses a large array of symptoms — from memory loss to trouble finding the right words to visual disorientation or the inability to initiate a task. Others experience impaired judgment and have trouble telling right from wrong. Getting the right kind of help is key. It starts with a clinical evaluation. From there, the proper treatment plan can be developed.