Understanding Dementia: What is it?

Senior Woman Completing Puzzle_SaraBella Senior Living

According to the National Institute on Aging, “dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning – to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.”

Contrary to what many people think, dementia is not just one condition. Instead, dementia is a blanket term encompassing several conditions affecting the brain. Because it is also a progressive condition, dementia symptoms will worsen over time and significantly impact a person’s ability to maintain independence.

Offering compassionate memory care services in Sarasota, Florida, our team at SaraBella Senior Living is sharing information on the common types of dementia and how these conditions are treated and managed.

Common Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior Man Consulting with Doctor_Memory Care in SarasotaAlzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-80% of cases. It is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits, such as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, in the brain. These deposits interfere with communication between nerve cells, leading to the gradual deterioration of cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease typically starts with memory loss and progresses to affect reasoning, language, and problem-solving abilities.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. This can result from conditions such as strokes or small vessel disease. The symptoms of vascular dementia can vary depending on the location and extent of the brain damage but often include difficulties with planning, organizing, and problem-solving. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia may exhibit a more step-like decline in cognitive function.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)

Lewy body dementia is characterized by abnormal protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain. It shares some symptoms with both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, such as cognitive decline and motor problems. However, the Lewy body proteins also cause damage to neurons in the areas of the brain that affect behavior and sleep. People living with LBD may experience visual hallucinations, fluctuations in alertness and attention, and problems with movement.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Frontotemporal dementia is a group of disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It often occurs earlier in life compared to other types of dementia, typically between the ages of 40 and 65. FTD can lead to changes in personality, behavior, and language. Subtypes include:

  • Behavioral variant FTD
  • Semantic variant primary progressive aphasia
  • Non-fluent variant primary progressive aphasia

Diagnosis and Management

Brain Scan_Memory Care in SarasotaDiagnosing dementia involves a comprehensive assessment of a person’s medical history and cognitive function and often includes imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs to identify structural brain changes. Blood tests may also be conducted to rule out other potential causes of cognitive decline.

While there is currently no cure for most types of dementia, early diagnosis, and appropriate management can help improve the well-being of individuals affected. Treatment plans may include medications to manage symptoms, occupational therapy to enhance daily functioning, and support services for individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

Additionally, memory care communities provide a safe, supportive, and structured space for individuals living with dementia to thrive. For instance, our memory care services in Sarasota, Florida, feature highly trained team members and caregivers who understand how to best support individuals living with memory impairment.

At SaraBella Senior Living, our Valeo™ memory care programming implements a holistic wellness philosophy that caters services to each resident. Through individualized care plans, we offer signature programs that encourage engagement, enhance memory, and slow the progression of the individual’s condition.

We help individuals build relationships and pursue their interests in an empowering way that sparks joy within a nurturing and relaxing neighborhood. This also provides peace of mind to family members, knowing that their relative is receiving the compassionate care and support they need to thrive.

It can be overwhelming when a family member is diagnosed with dementia or is experiencing memory loss, but you are not alone on your journey. Our team at SaraBella Senior Living is here to help you find the right care and support for your family member.

We encourage you to visit our website or contact a member of our dedicated team to learn more about our memory care services in Sarasota, Florida, and explore our luxury community.