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What causes dementia?

By July 30, 2014 - 6:11pm
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My grandpa had dementia. I know a lot of older people who got it too. What causes dementia? Is it just a part of aging or are there certain risk factors? What can I do to prevent dementia?

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Thanks Maryann!

All of this is so helpful! Never realized dementia was more of a term to explain symptoms rather than an actual condition. Doctors said they think my grandpa developed dementia because he had melanoma and it spread to his brain. They did chemo to treat the melanoma, but they say it also affected his brain and contributed to memory loss.

Thanks for the helpful info!

August 1, 2014 - 11:45am

Hello Erin,

Thank you for reaching out to us with your questions regarding dementia.

Dementia is not a disease but rather a term used to describe loss of brain function, specifically at least the loss of two brain functions. Memory loss and impaired judgment or language, and the inability to perform some daily activities such as paying bills or becoming lost driving, are three commonly lost functions.

Damage to nerve cells in the brain is associated with dementia.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Lewy body dementia is quickly becoming one of the most common types of dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein that have been found in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. It occurs as a result of brain damage due to reduced or blocked blood flow in blood vessels leading to your brain.

Frontotemporal dementia is a less common cause. It is characterized by the breakdown of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, the areas generally associated with personality, behavior and language.

Dementia is associated with Huntington's disease, traumatic brain injury, HIV, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Dementia isn't a normal part of aging, and dementia can occur in younger people.

The risk of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and several other dementias greatly increases with age. Having a family history of dementia greatly increases your risk for developing the condition.

Many people with Down syndrome develop the plaques and tangles in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. These changes are noted around middle age and some may develop dementia.

Erin, you can reduce your risk for developing dementia by drinking alcohol in moderation, reducing your risk for developing atherosclerosis, maintaining a normal blood pressure and low levels of low density or LDL cholesterol, avoid being overweight and do not smoking.

I hope this information is helpful.


July 31, 2014 - 4:44pm
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