Some forms of dementia, most notably Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, are irreversible. Other cases of dementia may arise from treatable conditions, such as alcohol abuse or vitamin deficiencies.
After Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is the second leading cause of senile dementia. Vascular dementia results from multiple small strokes, which change the available blood supply to brain cells. Vascular dementia ultimately results in irreversible brain tissue death.
Dementia is defined as the loss of mental processing ability, including communication, abstract thinking, judgment and physical abilities, such that it interferes with daily living. Symptoms include:
- short-term memory loss
- long-term memory loss
- lowered motivation
- forgetting to turn off ovens, lock doors, and other “automatic” responses
- personality changes
- mood changes
- difficulties with money and math
- becoming lost or disoriented in familiar surroundings.
Dementia Information and the Caregiver
Spouses, children, and other family members are often the primary caregivers for people with dementia. Information gathering on the specific type of dementia is vital for caregivers. Doctors, nurses, support groups and hospice are good sources of dementia information.
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting and caregivers must cope with high stress levels. Caregivers must receive support and care from both family members and the medical community. Respite care, where others temporarily care for the person with dementia, is essential.