A common misconception is that Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are one and the same. However, Alzheimer’s is actually a type of dementia, which is itself an umbrella term, covering in the region of 400 conditions that affect cognitive function on a progressive basis.
Of this huge array of conditions, the vast majority of dementia falls into one of the four following types of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is by far the most common form of dementia and accounts for an estimated 40-70% of all cases. It is caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, resulting in damage to nerve cells and reduced cognitive function.
Typically, people with Alzheimer’s initially suffer from mild memory loss and difficulty forming new memories of recent events. Over time, as the disease progresses, cognitive function is greatly reduced and communication becomes limited and recalling how to perform seemingly simple tasks can become alien.
The second most common form of dementia, accounting for an estimated 15-25% of all cases. It is caused by damage to brain cells due to reduced blood supply from blockages or narrowing in blood vessels.
Whereas Alzheimer’s tends to be a slow progression, vascular dementia can come on slowly or suddenly, usually If a patient has had a stroke affecting major blood vessels. In particular, if someone has a history of heart disease and or strokes, vascular dementia is common.
Vascular dementia tends to present itself with symptoms of memory loss, changes and or difficulties in walking and problems with communication, which can lead to social withdrawal.
Lewy Bodies are another form of abnormal proteins that build up in the brain and cause numerous issues. It is estimated that DLB accounts for an estimated 4-15% of cases of dementia.
With DLB, protein deposits disrupt nerve cells in the brain and symptoms can be similar to Parkinson’s disease. Walking and movement can be negatively affected, meaning those suffering from the condition may shuffle as they walk and be at higher risk of falls.
In addition to the above, they may suffer from periods of severe confusion, have hallucinations and disrupted sleep patterns, especially with difficulty sleeping at night.
FTD can affect the front area of the brain (frontal lobes) or the temporal lobes, above the ears. Depending on the areas affected, this type of dementia can affect a person’s motivation, organisation skills, control of their emotions and speaking / grasp of language.
It is estimated that it accounts for approximately 2-12% of all cases of dementia and tends to be more common in slightly younger people, in the 45 -65 age bracket.
As dementia progresses it is important to understand and plan on how they can be best assisted. Home care allows dementia patients to remain in their own homes, at least for a period of time and maintaining their setting and routine has been proven to be beneficial to dementia patients.
Radfield Home Care Wycombe, Beaconsfield & South Bucks works closely with clients with dementia and their families to enable them to remain at home and maintain a good quality of life. To discuss these services please contact the office on 01494 614 516, or email [email protected].
Get in touch with your local Radfield Home Care office today and find out more about the support we offer and the difference we can make.