· Question: Does my forgetfulness mean that I have Alzheimer’s Disease?
· Answer: Probably not.
A lot of people have memory lapses. But dementia is about more than misplacing your keys.
Dementia is a catch-all term given to diseases that cause deterioration of mental functions such as memory, language and reasoning. Dementia progresses from mild through to severe stages and interferes with a person’s ability to carry out their daily activities and function independently. Only 5-7% of people over the age of 65 have dementia. The number of people with dementia increases with age – up to 35% of people over the age of 85 have a form of dementia.
Symptoms of dementia include becoming lost in familiar places, being unable to follow directions, getting disoriented about time and place, not recognizing familiar people, asking the same questions over and over again, neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition.
Dementia can be caused by many conditions:
· The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease (60% of all dementias). Alzheimer’s Disease involves the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. The cause is unknown. Research is exploring treatments for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
· The second most common type of dementia is Vascular Dementia (which accounts for about 30% of all dementias). It involved repeated damage to the brain caused by small strokes, or blockages, in the blood vessels.
If you think that you, or someone you know, has dementia, contact your family doctor.
Useful information about Alzheimer’s Disease can also be obtained from the Alzheimer Society of Canada.