Commonly asked questions about dementia:
- What is dementia?
- Dementia treatment options
- Dementia organizations
- International dementia organizations
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a broad category of brain disease that causes a long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think, remember, problem-solve or speak.
These changes are often small to start, but may become great enough to affect a person’s daily life. Individuals afflicted may experience a change in mood and behavior.
Dementia is caused when the brain becomes damaged by disease, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or a stroke.
A diagnosis requires a change from someone’s usual mental functioning and a more severe decline than one would expect from aging.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause; however, not all dementia is due to Alzheimer’s. Depending on the parts of the brain damaged and the disease that they are afflicted with, a person’s symptoms will vary.
|Common Types of Dementia||Description|
|Alzheimer’s Disease||The most common form of dementia, brain cells become surrounded by an abnormal protein and their internal structure becomes damaged. Problems with memory are often the first sign, but may become more severe over time.|
|Vascular Dementia||Caused when oxygen supply to the brain is reduced by the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, which may result in damage to the brain. Symptoms may include difficulties with problem-solving or planning, thinking quickly and confusion.|
|Dementia with Lewy Bodies||Caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins into mass amounts, widely recognized as Lewy Bodies. Symptoms may include changes in problem-solving and judgment, confusion, hallucinations, memory loss and balance issues.|
|Frontotemporal Dementia||Caused when the front and side parts of the brain are damaged due to clumps of abnormal proteins forming inside nerve cells over time, causing them to die. Symptoms may include a change in behavior or difficulty with speech, depending on where the damage is sustained.|
|Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease||One of the rarest forms, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease die within one year of diagnosis. Scientists recognize this disease occurs when a protein in the brain spontaneously changes shape. The cause remains unclear.|
|Parkinson’s Disease||Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease that progress into dementia are similar to LBD. Both may include impaired memory, trouble sleeping, hallucinations, and tremors. Due to the many similarities, it’s oftentimes difficult for doctors to diagnose.|
|Mixed Dementia||Occurs when a person has more that one type of dementia. Symptoms may vary, depending on the types.|
What Are My Dementia Treatment Options?
Treatment depends on the disease’s cause. However, most forms are incurable. Currently, there is nothing that can cure or slow the progression of the disease. Research is continuing to develop different drugs, vaccines and other medical treatments that allow symptoms to be temporarily improved.
There are a range of support groups, activities and therapies that do not require medication that can help someone to live well with the disease. Talking therapies, including counseling, can help someone come to terms with their diagnosis.
Cognitive rehabilitation may allow an individual to maintain mental skills and raise confidence. Activities that help to keep the mind active, such as cognitive stimulation, including story telling or puzzles, may help to improve mental abilities.
It is important that anyone afflicted stay active — both physically and mentally. This will help to slow the effects of the disease, so they may retain their independence for as long as possible.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Their mission is to “eliminate Alzheimer’s through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care for all of those affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through promotion of brain health.” They are the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy — fighting for critical Alzheimer’s research, with a strong focus on prevention and care initiatives at the state and federal level.
Founded in 1998, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) is widely recognized as a leader in funding innovative Alzheimer’s drug research worldwide. ADDF funds the research and clinical trials that go into early stage dementia. They hope that by funding and supporting research project around the world, it will increase the chances of finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s, related dementia and cognitive ageing.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s mission is to “provide optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia and to their caregivers and families through our member organizations dedicated to improving quality of life.” The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America brings together more than 2,600 member organizations across the United States dedicated to meeting the social, educational, emotional and practical needs of the individuals with Alzheimer’s and related diseases and their caregivers and families.
Arts& Minds is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by Alzheimer’s and diseases similar to Alzheimer’s by engaging with art. A&M partners with museums to help provide fun and meaningful activities that help promote positive emotional experiences, enhance both verbal and non verbal communication, as well as building social networks and reducing isolation.
- Phone: (646) 755-3726
- Contact Page
Founded in 2004 by three families who were frustrated by the slow pace of research for Alzheimer’s, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $40 million in research. The organization’s goal is to be able to stop Alzheimer’s Disease using methods of early detection, prevention and effective intervention on patients who have shown signs of symptoms.
- Phone: (781) 237-3800
The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (Keep Memory Alive) helps treat patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as frontotemporal dementia and multiple sclerosis. The treatment programs are “designed to provide excellent care and to respect the dignity of patients and their families.” Since its founding, the Lou Ruvo Center has raised more than $20 million towards the fight of the disease.
The goal of Memory Bridge is to create programs that help people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other related dementia with family, friends and other people in their local community. They also create programs to try and show the public the depths of memory that the disease does not erase.
The National Institute on Aging’s goal is to help try and discover what factors can help contribute to being healthy at an old age. They are also trying to understand and address diseases and disabilities oftentimes associated with old age. Their research programs cover many areas, such as the study of basic cellular changes that can occur with age along with studying the biomedical, social and behavioral aspects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
International Dementia Organizations
- Alzheimer Disease International
- Alzheimer Europe
- Alzheimer Society of Canada
- Alzheimer Society of Ontario
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
- Alzheimer’s Society
- John’s Campaign
- The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care