Why Does Dementia Happen? Answers to Your Memory Loss Questions

When dealing with memory loss, whether your own or the memory loss of a loved one, many questions come rushing to the surface. The most prominent question our staff at Ashford Assisted Living & Memory Care are asked is: “Why does dementia happen?”.

What Is Dementia

The term dementia is something of a catch-all term for a range of memory loss-related symptoms. While all these issues are caused by damage to the brain’s cells, it can be in different areas, which cause different symptoms. The different memory loss conditions have symptoms in common, which are:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory loss
  • Communication issues
  • Declined focus
  • Language loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Vision impairment

This causes people to call all memory loss problems dementia or use it interchangeably with other diagnoses. In actuality, memory loss cases tend to be:

  • Between 70-80% of memory loss cases are Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Occurring post-stroke, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of memory problems.

There are a variety of other, more rare cases of memory loss diseases. Be sure to work closely with a doctor as some memory loss symptoms can be reversed.

Triggers For Dementia

When it comes to what triggers dementia, the exact reasons are unknown. However, there are a variety of risk factors, some of which you can manage and some which are unavoidable.

The triggers for dementia you cannot control are:

  • Medical history – If you have a family member who has had dementia, this puts you at a higher risk of developing dementia down the road.
  • Prior cognitive issues – If you already deal with cognitive problems relating to memory, such as autism, you have a higher risk of developing dementia. People with serious cognitive impairment, such as Down syndrome, also have a high risk of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Aging – While it is not a given that people develops dementia as they age, it does increase the risk.

In the face of the things you cannot change when it comes possible dementia triggers, there is much more that is in your control.

  • Depression – Untreated depression can cause memory loss symptoms as it depresses your brain functions.
  • Smoking – Increasing your risk of blood clots, you are more likely to suffer from a stroke which can induce vascular dementia.
  • Alcohol usage – Frequent heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of developing dementia, as it can damage the brain.
  • Diabetes – Poorly monitored insulin levels can trigger dementia.
  • Cardiovascular – There are a variety of cardiovascular triggers such as hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (large build of fat in your arteries), high cholesterol, and obesity. These are all risk factors for strokes, which can induce vascular dementia.
  • Sleep apnea – Those suffering from sleep apnea often stop breathing in their sleep, which can kill brain cells.

Managing A Loved One’s Dementia

It can be exhausting to take care of a loved one who is suffering from dementia. Many families struggle with caregiver burnout, as there is usually not enough people available to care for the family member struggling with dementia.

A safe and loving option is to transition your loved one into a special memory care unit. With trained nurses and staff, your loved one will receive round-the-clock care for all their needs so you can feel at peace knowing your family member is safe.

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