What is Alzheimer’s Dementia

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According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Alzheimer’s Dementia accounts for 60-70% of all dementia cases. What makes it a form of “dementia” is that it impairs cognition, speech, memory and movement.

What makes Alzheimer’s Dementia different from other forms of dementia (like vascular, lewy body and frontotemporal) is that there isn’t physical motor skill impairments directly associated with it and the causes aren’t well known. Dementia often surfaces as a symptom of some greater disease like Parkinson’s, Huntington and Alzheimer’s, or it could be the byproduct of a stroke.

Alzheimer’s Dementia is characterized by increasing and persistent forgetfulness. These patients routinely forget names of loved ones, appointments, words to express themselves, or even entire events. Balancing the checkbook or cooking a meal suddenly becomes overwhelming.

Emotional mood swings are common, as the patient struggles to deal with confusing emotions and frustration. Unfortunately, the causes of Alzheimer’s are not widely understood, although visible brain effects include tau protein tangles and beta-amyloid protein plaques.

Inflammation and brain cell death are also triggered in the Alzheimer’s brain. The average person lives with Alzheimer’s Dementia for eight years before dying, so it’s important than caregivers and patients seek counsel on coping skills.

Lewy Body Dementia is characterized by the loss of ability to reason, think and remember. Like Alzheimer’s Dementia, it causes Alzheimer’s symptoms like confusion, memory loss, decreased awareness, delusions and depression; and like Parkinson’s, it causes physical disturbances like tremors and rigidity.

Some people with Lewy Body Dementia even suffer hallucinations. The causes aren’t known but researchers feel it’s somehow linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and they’ve noticed a common protein in patients that may be the key to preventative measures.

The good news is that not all Alzheimer’s Dementia symptoms are in fact a serious or fatal condition. Sometimes the symptoms appear as a result of decreased thyroid functioning, a reaction to medication or poor nutrition.

Chronic alcoholism often creates a deficiency in Vitamin B1/Thiamin, which produces signs of dementia. Niacin/B3 deficiencies and dehydration may also resemble Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Infections like meningitis, encephalitis or syphilis cause dementia, but can be reversed if caught in time.

A build up of spinal fluid near the brain (known as “hydrocephalus”) causes impaired mental functions but can be treated by draining the fluid with a tube. In other cases, emotional problems or depression can mimic dementia, which can be regulated through a combination of drugs and therapy.

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