There are 850,000 people in the UK living with demntia and this is expected to rise to 1 million by the year 2025 due to a growing older population within the UK. Dementia leads to a decline in mental function causing a person to become forgetful, lose the ability to process thought and in some cases leads to a decline in a persons health.
Women over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer from dementia than men.
There are 4 main types of dementia Alzheimers, Vascular dementia, Lewy body demntia and frontotemporal dementia.
Alzheimers accounts for 60% of people with dementia. Alzheimers is caused by a build up of protein known as plaques and tangles. No one know exeactly why this occurs however amyloid 'plaques' and 'tau' tangles.
Amyloid is a naturally occuring protein the the brain which becomes dysfunctional and becomes toxic to the brain.
Tau proteins are found in the brain and help brain cells communicate. In Alzheimers they clump together and causing brain cells affected to die.
Alzheimers commonly occur in people over the age of 65 and it can b 10 years until a person starts to show the symptoms of the disease (Dimentia UK, 2017).
Affects 17% of people with dementia making it the second most common type of dementia. The brain is sypplied by rich supply of blood. As we age the smaller vessles become blocked inhibiting oxygen from reaching the brain. The small clots are known as Trancient inschaemic attacks (TIA's).
After episodes of TIA there may be a cognitive decline initiall followed by some improvement. Improvement may never be 100%.
Dementia with Lewy Body
Accounts for 15% of people with dementia. Clumps of protein in brain cell nerves causes the symptoms of lewy body dementia which shares some features with Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
Symtoms depend on what part of the brain the lewy bodies are. Lewy bodies at the base of the brain lead to Parkinson's symtoms whereas lewy bodies at the outer parts of the brain leads to diruption in cognitive problems.
A person with Parkinson's Disease is at a higher risk of dementia with lewy bodies
Frontotemporal demntia is common in thoes under the age of 65. This occurs when the nerve cells in the brain die in the frontalor temporal regions of the brain.
Symptoms can lead to behaviour changes, excessive and repetitive behavious, difficulty problem solving or concentrating.
Risk Factors for dementia
Poor Diet- The correct nutrition is required for optimal brain health. Poor diet can increase a persons risk of dementia.
Sedentary lifestyle- Aerobic exercises improve the ability of the body to get oxygen to the brain cells within the body. A sendenatry lifestyle impairs brain health and function. Execcive smoking and alcohol consumption also increases the risk.
Gender- Women are more likely to get dementia compared to men.
Age- The risk of demntia increases with age with thoes over the age of 65 being at greater risk.
Family planning- As soon as a diagnosis of dementia has been made families can start the process to protect thier loved ones. This could be purchasing a keysafe, orgnaising extra help within the house. A family memeber can register to become the power of attorny and act within the patient best interest. Finances can be planned.
Routine planning- People with dementia are use to routines. It can be helpful to implement new safer routines early when there is an ability to learn rather than later.
Environment- New mobility aids can be introduced early to improve a persons safety at home, hazards which require a certain level of cognition can be removed. This may include adding a stair lift or extra rail for the stairs. A person with dementia may benefit from a specilist care home.
Physcial activity- Physical activity is essential to keep people with dementia active and muscles strong. This is necessary to facilitate mobility and also reduce risk of falling.
Brain training- Keeping the brain active and alert and involving people with dementia in activities and hobbies they love can help reduce rapid decline in cognition.