By Kate Jaggers

10th December 2020

Categorised in Conditions & Illnesses

Have you misplaced your keys or lost the tv remote? Maybe you’ve completely forgotten about your doctor’s appointment?  Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, but it is when this forgetfulness becomes frequent that you may be facing symptoms of a disease. The disease most thought of when it comes to memory loss is dementia.

Dementia effects people in different ways but the main symptoms often include the following:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty finding the right word
  • Confusion about a time or place
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetting people, names or items

A lot of people think dementia is a normal part of aging, it is not. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of conditions that all cause the brain to deteriorate at a quicker rate than a healthy aging brain would. Dementia is a progressive disease that eventually effects an individual’s personality, communication and mental abilities.

There is no way to predict who is likely to develop dementia, but certain categories of people are more at risk to developing dementia, which includes those who have multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntingdon’s or Parkinson’s.

Although there are multiple different types of dementia, some are quite common and others are extremely rare.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This form of dementia is the most common. It develops when plaques and tangles build up in the brain. The presence of these structures have toxic effects on brain cells and as the disease progresses, the toxicity and subsequent damage becomes worse. This leads to an irreversible loss of brain cells and causes a decline in an individual’s physical and mental abilities.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s may be often confused which can make them increasingly angry, upset or frustrated. Support for these individuals is vital as the symptoms directly impact their ability to communicate, this support also helps to reduce withdrawal and depression

Vascular dementia

An interrupted blood supply to the brain is the cause of this dementia – with a stroke being the most common cause of this interruption. After a stroke, symptoms appear suddenly or slowly after a series of mini strokes. Having a stroke, doesn’t mean an individual will develop this form of dementia, but it does make them more likely too. Memory loss isn’t always the most obvious or initial symptom of vascular dementia, initial symptoms tend to affect concentration and they can even manifest into seizures for some.

Lewy Body dementia

Lewy body dementia isn’t understood very well in comparison to other dementias. It is understood that Lewy bodies are collections of protein that build up within the brain, but we do not know what the cause of them is. We also know that the protein build up is linked to low levels of chemicals in the brain that help to regulate cell communication.

Again, memory loss isn’t always the first symptom of this form of dementia as many symptoms effect concentration and spatial awareness. As the symptoms tend to effect motor control and functionality, Parkinson’s Disease is also closely related to this form of dementia

Fronto-temporal dementia

Pick’s Disease is a common name for this rare form of dementia. Two specific areas of the brain are damaged and in turn shrunk in this form of dementia. Nerves in the areas that control behaviour, emotions and language die and the routes where cells communicate are damaged and cells shrink.

Those under the age of 65 are mostly commonly diagnosed with this form of dementia. Those that are diagnosed tend to experience personality changes – these change often manifests as aggression, lack of empathy and tact and often impacts their ability to hold conversations.

Memory loss is what we think of when we discuss dementia and its symptoms. But this isn’t always how dementia presents itself –lack of motor control, personality changes, confusion and communication issues are all ways in which dementia can start to creep in. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of dementia, you can help you to be better equipped to identify a pattern of behaviour – this is vital information for a GP.

This article has been sourced in partnership with Dementia Together. If you are worried about memory issues, are living with dementia, caring for someone who has dementia, or you’re a health professional, Dementia Together is there for you. They are a wonderful charity that supports people in and around Suffolk. Not a Suffolk resident? We still recommend looking at their website – it is jam-packed full of incredible information and advice.