Learn about the causes of Dementia & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Dementia within New Zealand.
Dementia is a term given to symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia impairs mental abilities such as thought, memory and reasoning. Dementia can also alter behaviour, trigger mood swings and cause personality changes. Common causes of dementia include Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. Dementia typically affects people over the age of 60 but it is not a normal effect of growing old.
Causes Of Dementia
Dementia is caused by damage to cells in the part of the brain that
controls mental ability. Cells can be damaged by disease or infection
(such as Alzheimer's disease or meningitis), trauma (from a head
injury), pressure (by a brain tumour) or loss of blood and oxygen
supply to the brain (such as from strokes).
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a progressive physical disease with no single cause. Contributory factors for Alzheimer's include age, genetic inheritance, general health, environment, diet, diabetes, severe head injury and high blood pressure. Alzheimer's sufferers also have lower levels of neurotransmitting chemicals that send messages around the brain.
Another common cause of dementia includes vascular disorders that lead to poor circulation of blood to the brain. Vascular dementia causes the small blood vessels in the brain to become blocked or narrowed preventing adequate blood and oxygen supply to brain cells. Without this supply, brain cells become damaged and die. Vascular dementia is similar to a series of small strokes and its development is increased by smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and excessive alcohol consumption.
Less common causes of dementia include Lewy body dementia, Picks disease, Huntington's disease and hypothyroidism. Neurological brain illness from Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis can also lead to dementia as can long-term use of illegal drugs or alcohol. A lack of certain hormones and nutrients are also attributed to the development of dementia.
Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia symptoms can vary but typically they develop gradually and
over a period of years. The early signs are usually memory loss that
can first appear to be quite subtle. Recent memories are first to be
affected and may include forgetting names, places and where the person
lives. As dementia develops, memories of the past are affected followed
by an inability to recall recent events. Someone with dementia may
believe they are younger than they actually are as in their mind they
are living in the past.
Dementia also affects speech and language as the sufferer begins to forget words. The use of the wrong words becomes more exaggerated and conversation can become repetitive or completely irrelevant to the situation. Dementia can cause confusion about surroundings and people that were once familiar. Dementia sufferers can lose track of time and become unaware whether it is morning or afternoon. Simple everyday tasks become difficult for dementia sufferers and dangerous situations can occur such as walking away whilst cooking and leaving a pan to boil over.
One of the most difficult symptoms of dementia for sufferers and carers is a change to mood and behaviour. Dementia can trigger mood swings and irritable or aggressive behaviour. As dementia progresses further, antisocial and inappropriate behaviour occurs due to a loss of inhibitions. Dementia sufferers can also lose interest in the outside world and forget to wash or change their clothes. Dementia also affects a person's ability to learn new skills and information. Severe symptoms of dementia can lead to difficulty with swallowing and mobility, incontinence, sleep loss, hallucinations, weight loss and depression.
Due to dementia's gradual development diagnosis in its early stages can
be difficult. Dementia diagnosis typically begins with the common
symptom of memory loss. A mental examination involving simple ability
tests of reading, writing and arithmetic can highlight how far the
condition has progressed. As dementia has different types, diagnostic
tools such as blood tests, x-rays or MRI scans of the brain may be
required to provide further information.
Many people with dementia are unaware they have the condition and therefore intervention by a friend, relative or carer is usually required so it can brought to the attention of a GP or medical professional.