I have a number of blogs on mental capacity and most of them relate to “dementia” as the cause of the cognitive deficits that had lead to the estate litigation.
Most people immediately assume dementia is Alzheimer’s disease due to its public notoriety and it’s effect as an increasing long-term social problem in an aging population.
While Alzheimer’s disease is in fact the most common type of dementia, there are several other types and there are innumerable various medical conditions that can cause memory loss, confusion, personality changes, problems with walking, speaking in comprehension that may not be related to dementia.
The medical testing for dementia can be quite complex, involving a range of medical assessments from the taking of a detailed family history, a mental assessment test, to possible CT scans, blood tests and other sophisticated medical examinations involving a team approach.
The bottom line is that it is very difficult to assess what is going on inside another person’s brain. This can be complicated by any number of factors ranging from deafness, depression, cultural fears, paranoid thinking, to outright uncooperativeness.
The Four Most Common Types of Dementia
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
The majority of demented people ( %70?) are inflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, which can start developing many years before any symptoms appear. It frequently takes family members approximately 2 years to notice enough symptoms to take their loved one to a doctor for assessment.
One of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s is that it is a steady progression of symptoms over several years. The failure of short-term memory might initially be regarded as just an aging process, but the repetitive telling of stories are asking the same questions over and over will typically convince others to suspect dementia.
Onset of the disease typically happens in people’s 60s or 70s or later, but does in about 5% of cases begin earlier will. As the disease progresses, the patient typically becomes more confused, has difficulty with recognition, confuses night and day, has very bad short term memory, and eventually loses the ability to handle personal care, such as feeding oneself.
The hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s is short term memory loss.
2. VASCULAR DEMENTIA
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 15 to 20% of cases on average. Most people will recognize this dementia has having been caused by blockages in the blood flow that may result in a series of mini strokes, or a major stroke, brain hemorrhaging are simply narrowing of blood vessels due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or clogged arteries.
The risk of vascular dementia increases with age, and it is also common to have a combination of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
A hallmark of vascular dementia is that the symptoms may appear suddenly, as opposed to the steady progression of Alzheimer’s.
3. Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is much less common than Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and typically attacks nerve cells in the brain responsible for memory, motor control, and thinking. The loss of motor control is related to Parkinson’s disease causing the patient to frequently experience rigid muscles, tremors, or trouble walking.
4. Frontotemporal Dementia
Frontotemporal dementia is not very common statistically, but it is the most common type of dementia for people under age 60.
The disease starts in the frontal lobe, which is responsible for mood and behavior, causing the patient too often become aggressive, or apathetic, lack empathy using inappropriate language, and even act out sexually. It can often be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder such as bipolar.
Symptoms can also include extreme compulsive behavior such as unusual cravings and eating patterns or repetitive listening and watching entertainment.
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease memory loss is not usually a major symptom.