Research Round #1 - Why is Dementia on the Rise?

What is Dementia? 



          Dementia overall is a disorder that affects the brain. This can include different sets of symptoms depending on the section of the brain affected. Many of they main symptoms can include memory loss, thinking, language, and it can lower someone's ability to perform daily tasks. The person could also have a change in mood and behavior. (1)(2)

"Dementia is not a specific disease." (1)

dementia cover a wide range of different symptoms. The most common case involving dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which is about 60% - 80%. Vascular dementia occurs after a stroke is the second most common cause of dementia. Although dementia is progressive - symptoms will get gradually worse and more brain cells will be damaged and more will die - some symptoms such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies commonly involved with dementia are reversible. (1)(3)

"Dementia is not a specific disease. Many diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia (due to strokes), Lewy Body disease, head trauma, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. These conditions can have similar and overlapping symptoms." (1) (I will be looking into these diseases on my next rounds of research)



Symptoms of Dementia


Short memory changes This is a very subtle change, only close family or friend will be able to notice. Someone experiencing short memory loss will be able to remember something significant that happened a long time ago, but they might not remember what they had for breakfast or what they did in the morning. They could lose track of where they put their keys if they paid their bills or what they were going to do. (1)(4)

Unable to find the right words to use Symptoms involving thought are also dealt with. It will be hard for the person to find the right words to match what they are trying to say. This is what makes having conversation with someone who has dementia difficult (3)(4)

Changes in mood depression are common with early signs of depression, the person will experience mood changes. They could shift personalities. Someone who is outgoing can become shy, and the opposite can be true as well. (4)

Difficulties doing normal things A person with dementia will also have troubles performing daily tasks, they tend to forget things and that is especially common. With forgetting the memory, daily tasks will also be forgotten, the ability to perform tasks will be forgotten, therefore a person with dementia will face difficulties. (2)(4)

Confusion someone with dementia will be confused often, they will not know what is going on and will often need reminders. they will slowly start for forgetting faces and forget words. Communication with them will become harder as they will know who you are. (4)


These changes could be divided into two types of changes, they include (according to mayo clinic):


Cognitive changes

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Difficulty reasoning or problem-solving
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Confusion and disorientation (3)


Psychological changes

  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations (3)



 Risk factors associated with Dementia


There are many different risks to get dementia, some of these, people are able to control, other factors cannot be controlled. There are still researchers trying to find more risk factors for dementia. (3)(5)


Risk factors that cannot be changed:


  • Age although dementia is not a part of aging, dementias develop mostly in older people after the age of 65. You people are still able to get dementia (3)(6)
  • Down Syndrome people with down syndrome will develop early onset AD when they are middle aged. (3)(6)
  • Family History someone who has a grandparent or a parent who had dementia will have a higher chance of having a gene for dementia. This runs down the family tree and is unstoppable, but tests are able to be taken so people can find ut if they have the gene for dementias. (3)
  • Mental illnesses depression has been linked to dementias, it can lead to mild mental impairment. (6)
  • Diabetes "People with diabetes appear to have a higher risk of dementia, although the evidence for this association is modest." (6)


Risk factors that can be changed:


  • Smoking can increase the chance of getting a cadio vascular disease that is commonly associated with dementias. This can cause the brain to not get enough blood need to function properly and damentia will occur more likely. (3)(4)(6)
  • Alcohol consumption higher alcohol comption equals a higher risk in getting dementia. " Most studies suggest that drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of dementia, while drinking a moderate amount may be protective." (6)(3)(4)
  • Track your numbers: keep  blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight within recommended ranges and make sure to get them checked out if they are not within the range. (4)
  • Eat healthy, a main cause for dementia is the brain being deprived of oxygen nd the nutrients it needs, which are in the blood. Eating fats and non-healthy food can clog up the arteries and the brian could be blocked of the blood that it needs. (4)(6)
  • Protect the head/wear a helmet the brain injuries of people who have suffered with many severe head injuries will have a higher chance of developing dementia, it is commonly linked to the onset of  Alzheimer's disease. (4)(6)



Causes of Dementia


"Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells."

the damage to the brain cells interceptss the brain's ability for communitcation, thinking, behavior and other complications. The normal things that everyone can do is changed. The brain has may lops and sections, each responsible for preforming a certain task, wiith one pary damaged and gone, the restn of the brain will not be able to do what they do. When that region of the brain id damaged, tey rest of the brain will not be able to preform that function. (1)

With the different parts o fthe brain, some parts are responsible fr retaining memeory, some are responsiblefor communicatin, problem solving skills. The hippocampus is the center of learin and memory in the brain, with Alzheimer's, that is the section of brain that is damaged; therefore, memory loss is inevitable. Many of the causes of dementia are associated with memory problems, if those causes get better, the memory problems might imporve as well, some of them include: (1)(7)

  • Depression
  • Medication side effects
  • Excess use of alcohol
  • Thyroid problems
  • Vitamin deficiencies (7)

(Other causes could be diseases linked with dementias and i will go over them for my next research round.)


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Pictures used



- Grace Sun


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Original Post

Hi Grace,

I have some experience with dementia in my family. My Oma (grandma) had it, for awhile before we knew because her and my Opa (grandpa) "hid it" so to speak. My Opa just did more tasks around the house so that my Oma didn't have to. Once we were aware of it, I remember noticing her hiding things like her jewlery, rearranging, as well as speaking in German and forgetting her English. It was weird to see things that were pretty subtle unless you were looking for them. Strange things like moving the plates and cups in the cupboard, just some things like that that I noticed. 

Great research, keep it up!      

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