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What is Dementia - Stages, Causes, and Symptoms

Updated on July 16, 2012

What is Dementia

Dementia is a syndrome caused by reduction in brain function in areas where communication, memory and problem solving occur. For example, Alzheimer is a form of dementia. Causes can be from vessel damage in the brain and damaged brain cells. It typically occurs slowly, increasing over time.

Our family went through a very difficult time when my husband's beloved Grandmother began experiencing memory loss and mood swings which lead to her first diagnosis of the beginning stages of Alzheimer disease. She began to have panic attacks and rages. This women who had been so sweet spirited her whole life began to experience so many of these confusing symptoms. At first she was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, then they believed it was an adverse reaction to her medication, ultimately she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. This was a very sad end to such a beautiful woman who gave so much of herself all of her life.

Please read on.....

Types and Causes of Dementia

Dementia can be a very serious problem.

Dementia is a syndrome that describes a decrease in brain function in the areas of memory, communication, language and problem solving and is believed to be caused by brain cell damage and or brain cell death. There are different types of dementia, the classifications are determined by rate of progression and symptoms. Causes vary and can include; drug use, head trauma, brain cell death from disease, and genetics. Most forms of dementia are not reversible. These forms include some brain injuries, drug abuse, and brain infections.

Some Causes of Dementia

Drug use Studies show that long term use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco lead to dementia in the aged. This includes prescription medicines and cannabis.The use and over use of certain drugs kills brain cell, long term use can be irreversible.

Head Trauma Severe head trauma can cause immediate symptoms of dementia. There are also studies that suggest that even head trauma that does not immediately result in dementia may surface in the long term.

Other Causes of Dementia

AIDS, low blood sugar, stress, nutritional deficits, lack of sleep, infections and inflammation, among others

Diseases associated with dementia are;

Alzheimers Disease This disease normally affects people over the age of 65 and is incurable. It is diagnosed through a set of standardized tests administered by a trained health care worker. There are 7 stages recognized in the progression of this disease. 1 being no symptoms and 7 being the most severe symptoms and with 1+ years death. Persons diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease normally live 3 to 20 years after diagnosis.

Vascular Dementia Vascular dementia is generally caused by decreased obstructed blood flow n the blood vessels to the brain. This is most commonly associated by a stroke(blockage of blood flow through a vessel in the brain). There are other causes not commonly associated such as; smoking, drug use, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Parkinson's Disease Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder in which symptoms include; shaking, tremors, and loss of muscle control.This disease occurs when nerve cells that use dopamine die off. The dopamine helps to control muscle movement and results in the related symptoms. Very often dementia is also a resulting symptom, but not always.

In closing

This is a very brief overview of the causes and symptoms of dementia. Dementia can be debilitating and very frustrating to the individual and such individual's families. There are a wide range of disorders and diseases which cause dementia. Treatments for dementia have a long road ahead of them before total success is obtained. There are many successes and failures in the study and treatment of dementia, as scientists continue their work the road will get a little shorter, I wish them success.

Michael J Fox


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    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you for your kind words :)

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear kimberlylake,

      Thank you for a useful guide to some of the prion protein diseases that cause such dreadful suffering. Work is advancing and we should be optimistic about the future. Voted up and useful.

      Kind regards Peter

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you so much for the comment. I appreciate you taking time to read and comment:)

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Thanks Kimberly, for such a clear and comprehensive written treatment of dementia. It all seems quite vague on the mass media, but here you've spelled out exactly what is what.

      Well done.


    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @Living Senior Thank you for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read my Hub. I am glad you found useful.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @zann17 I am sorry to hear about your grandma. It must be very difficult for you and your family. I hope she is in good care. She sounds like she is a loving human being. Take care. Kim

    • zann17 profile image


      6 years ago from Bristol, England

      My grandma has Lewy bodies dementia, which is close to Alzeimer's and Parkinson's. She was in a care home and is now in hospital as she broke her hip. It is sad to see them aggressive and forgetting who you are. As my grandma wasn't eating, she was saving the food for her children (my mother and uncles), I think it was better for her to be put into care. Good hub.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      I am glad it was a help to you tsmog. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      There is a lot of information on the web about treatments for dementia. Maybe a good vitamin and nutrition therapy would help. Dr Mark Hyman runs a medical institute ( I was referred to his work by another hubber) you can search his name he does a lot with vitamin therapy. Thanks for spending time reading my hub, I am glad it was helpful to you.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you Kimberly, This means much to me personally for a couple reasons. Very informative hub and offers a lot of clarification.

    • Kebennett1 profile image


      6 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

      My mother has dementia and her physician said it was due to the onset of Alzheimer's, but she has also had several major strokes, is a diabetic and had been a smoker for over 50 years. Now I am wondering what the cause really is! I guess it doesn't really matter what the cause is so much as how to care for her growing symptoms. I am finding it more and more difficult and stressful to care for her. I too have had a stroke and am on lots of medications and am now suffering migraines. I am wondering if I am going to end up with dementia! I am praying I don't! Thank you for the information. It is very helpful.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @Vellur Thank you for your comment and taking the time to stop by and read and comment my Hub. I am happy you found it useful.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Useful and informative. Voted up. You have clearly explained what Dementia is.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      I am glad this has helped. I am sorry to hear about your family, alzheimers is a devastating disease. Take care and thank you for your comment and voted up.

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      6 years ago from UK

      This is really helpful. My father-in-law has Alzheimers. He is 90 years of age. My mother-in-law is 91 and seems to be coping, just. The strain is beginning to show. My partner, his son, is trying to hide his grief - and is it grief - the father he knew has gone and doesn't recognise him. This disease is devastating. A useful and interesting hub.


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