The word “dementia” refers to symptoms found in people who have cognitive problems. This is a result of losing brain cells. Although losing brain cells is part of the aging process, illnesses related to dementia of any kind occurs at a faster rate. The result is impaired thought processes (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated). There are many types of dementia, 84 in all. Some dementias are the result of another illness, such as AIDS.
It is known that HIV and AIDS has a direct effect on the brain and cognitive impairment. Between eight and sixteen per cent of AIDS patients develop a progressive type of dementia. Persons with HIV usually develop dementia in the end stages of their disease. Some symptoms of dementia may surface earlier. Symptoms include: confusion, difficulty, apathy, blunted emotions, and loss of inhibitions. Victims of AIDS however, appear to maintain most of their original behaviors until death occurs.
Years of heavy drinking can result in a form of dementia. Sometimes, however, when the person stops drinking and begins to eat a balanced diet, improvements in cognition may occur. Year of heavy drinking can also cause Korsakoff’s syndrome, which involves extensive memory loss. Korsakoff’s Syndrome is not actually a form of dementia; its symptoms are similar to those of dementia (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Crutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) usually occurs by accident during surgery, although in very few cases, it can be hereditary. There is currently a controversy over whether or not beef infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is responsible for CJD in humans. Studies recently have shown younger people, the average is twenty-six, showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. CJD progresses at a fast rate and most victims die within six months of being diagnosed. Some live for two to five years. Symptoms include: mood swings, withdrawal from activities once enjoyed, memory problems, difficulty conversing, and jerky uncontrollable movements (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Diffuse Lewy Body Disease is a type of dementia linked to Parkinson’s Disease. It also affects one-fifty to one-fourth of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. This type of dementia is fairly mild. Symptoms include: depression, confusion, and delusions. Also, persons with Lewy Body Disease appear to be more sensitive to medications related to behavior problems. A large percent of persons with Down’s Syndrome, who live to the age of forty or over develop Alzheimer’s Disease. This population develops Alzheimer’s Disease thirty to forty years earlier than the overall population (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome is a disease usually inherited. Symptoms include memory problems, slight involuntary movements, depression, and irrational behavior (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated). Multi-Infarct Dementia (MID) is caused by small strokes which affect the blood supply to the brain. Areas of the brain generally affected include: memory, speech, language, and learning. Speech and behavior problems develop over time. Seizures and limb paralysis are common (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Parkinson’s Disease includes problems with ambulation, writing, and dressing. This is a result of the loss of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine helps to control movement. Twenty to thirty per cent of persons with Parkinson’s Disease develop dementia in the latter stages(Alzheimer-Europe. Undated). Frontal lobe Dementia causes behavior problems with include: personality changes. Pick’s Disease is just one type of frontal lobe dementia. People with this type of dementia tend to rude and arrogant. The onset of Pick’s Disease is between fifty-two and fifty-seven. The average duration is six to seven years (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Alzheimer’s Disease has been called “the disease of the century”. Over four million people in the United States are afflicted with it, most of them are over sixty-five. Research shows that there are risk factors although the disease cannot be traced to one, single cause, it is a combination of situations which change from one person to another (Hamdy et al., 1998). Age is one risk factor. The risk for people over 65 years of age is one person in 20. The risk is people under 65 years is one in one thousand. Many people become forgetful as they age, but the majority of people over eighty stay mentally alert. The chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease increases with age, but old age in itself does not cause Alzheimer’s Disease.
Problems with arteriosclerosis, can be a contributing factor in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. As people are living longer now, it is a perceived fact that Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias will increase. Head injury is another risk factor. Fifty per cent of persons who have some form of head injury may develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Genetics is another risk factor, it does not mean that if one of your parents has Alzheimer’s Disease that you will automatically get the disease, but the risk does increase (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).
Some studies suggest that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease than men. However, women live longer than men. If men lived as long as women do, the number of men diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease would be about the same (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated). There is no conclusive evidence that one group of people are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. There is growing evidence, however, which shows that people with a higher level of education are at lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease than those people with a lower level of education (Alzheimer-Europe. Undated).