"Let's Find the Cause of Your Losses in Memory and Thinking
So That You Can Live Your Life Up to Your Full Potential"

Not Like It Used To Be

I forget the names of people I’ve known for years. In the middle of talking to someone, I forget what I want to say.

I Get So Confused

Like, did I take my medicine this morning? I just can’t remember. Everyone is upset with me, but I can’t help it.

It's 3 a.m. and I Can't Sleep

For so long I’ve been so worried about my parents. The whole family is so concerned about their problems with memory and thinking.

I'm Concerned

I’ve known this couple for many years and lately they’ve changed. They’ve stopped going to church activities and they get lost driving.

Treatment Support

It’s past time that these patients undergo more testing than I can provide. I need help figuring out what is going on.

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Main Causes of Memory and Thinking Problems
Written by Stanley Ferneyhough   

Dementia is actually an umbrella term for a large number of disorders that can affect losses in your memory and thinking.
 

 

  • The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer disease’s disease that accounts for between 50 and 70 per cent of dementias.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by changes to some of the nerve cells within the brain. Over time these changes result in cell death. Proteins are one major kind of chemical in the body, normally making up tissues like muscle. Some other proteins can deposit on the nerve cells in the brain, forming what are called ‘neuritic plaques’. These interfere with the normal transmission of information between brain cells. Tangles can form from broken down portions of nerve cells, again interfering with how the brain cells function. While there are many theories about why these changes in brain cells occur in some individuals, no one explanation has yet been accepted. In fact, there probably is not one single cause of the disease, but several factors that affect each individual differently.
  • The condition is slightly more common in women than men.
  • The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease usually appear slowly, increasing in severity over time. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. In this stage, people may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. They may not be able to solve simple math problems. Such difficulties may be worrisome, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm. However as the disease progresses, symptoms are more easily noticed and may become serious enough to cause persons with the disease or their family members to seek medical help. For example, people in the middle stages of the disease may forget how to perform simple tasks, such as brushing their teeth or making a cup of tea. Their thinking may become muddled and problems arise with speaking, understanding, reading or writing. Later, persons with Alzheimer’s disease may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Approximately 25 per cent of Alzheimer’s patients experience hallucinations or delusions during the course of their illness but usually only for a short period.
  • The second most common form of dementia, resulting from small strokes, is commonly called Vascular Dementia but is also sometimes called Multi-Infarct Dementia.
  • Vascular Dementia occurs when blood clots block small blood vessels in the brain, ultimately destroying surrounding brain tissue. The disease can also trigger minor strokes.
  • It is now believed that Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia occur together, as a mixed cause dementia, in up to 30 per cent of individuals.
  • Symptoms of Vascular Dementia include confusion, problems with recent memory, wandering or getting lost in familiar places, loss of bladder or bowel control, emotional problems such as laughing or crying inappropriately, difficulty following instructions, and problems handling money. Usually the damage is so slight that the change is noticeable only as a series of small steps. However, over time, as more small vessels are blocked, there is a gradual mental decline.
  • Other types of dementia include Lewy Body Dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia. These account for the majority of the remaining dementias.
  • Lewy Body Dementia involves a special kind of brain cell death occurring in particular areas of the brain. Patients with this disorder often demonstrate extreme variation in mood with periods of confusion, followed by greater lucidity, and disturbed visual experiences. This kind of cell death is found in patients with Parkinson's Disease and some other conditions. As noted previously, the symptoms of Lewy Body Disease can often have a psychiatric quality –increased anxiety, some visual hallucinations and a general problem with concentration and persistence. The cognitive problems and speed of deterioration can sometimes be more rapid than Alzheimer's disease but this can vary significantly.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia is a disease where cell death occurs in specific parts of the brain (the frontal and temporal lobes). It is important because it is often associated with significant behavior and personality change. Frontotemporal Dementia often shows itself first as changes in behavior, mood or normal personality features but then will also include changes in cognitive skills, particularly attention, problem-solving, judgment and organizing skills. As a result this disease can be quite distressing for family members and careers.
  • A variety of neurological and medical conditions may also result in some dementia. The occasional case of fully treatable and reversible dementia benefits from early detection because early detection minimizes the suffering and complications from causative disorder.
  • Also, some evidence suggests that potently treatable causes of dementia, such as hypothyroidism and lack of vitamin B12, can result in irreversible brain damage if present for long periods of time.