Dementia, also known as senility, is not a specific disease, but a group of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia affects more than 4 million adults in the United States and is on the rise. Some causes of dementia can be treated and others can be improved with the right treatment. Gundersen’s Memory Center has specialists trained to deal with all types of dementia.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. However, a patient with memory loss does not necessarily have dementia. Dementia patients often have problems with more than one brain function, such as memory and language.
Dementia doesn’t necessarily mean a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease either. Dementia can be associated with more than 70 other conditions. Still, at least half of dementia patients have Alzheimer’s disease.
About 20 percent of patients with memory loss have multi-infarct dementia (MID). MID is caused by multiple strokes and blocks small blood vessels in the brain. Some of these strokes are what doctors call silent strokes because patients don’t even know they are happening and don’t experience any symptoms.
Dementia can also be caused by neurological diseases such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and AIDS.
Because dementia can sometimes be treated, correct diagnosis is important. Dementia caused by vascular conditions, for example, is not usually progressive. Something as simple as a daily aspirin dose might help.
Even when the disease cannot be stopped or reversed, symptoms may be improved. Specialists in Gundersen’s Memory Center can offer ways to make life easier for patients and their caregivers.