Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer's

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Dementia is described as difficulty with mental function and cognitive decline and can be caused by many things, such as stroke, nutritional deficiencies, toxic or traumatic exposures. 

Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia and is caused by the degeneration of brain cells, which help us think and remember information, although we don't know what ultimately causes this. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that worsens over time. It often starts with milder changes of forgetfulness and progresses to impair many areas of function, including disorientation, difficulty speaking, personality changes, and difficulty with self-care.  

Medical evaluations can help to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and rule out other causes of dementia. Testing may include a clinical assessment and exam, lab work, brain scan, and neuropsychological cognitive testing. There are treatment options to improve memory in Alzheimer’s, although these options work partially and do not offer a cure. 

Although we do not have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and we cannot control our genes, we can control our lifestyle to help decrease the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The best way is to live a healthy lifestyle – including good nutrition of a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 oils; as well as maintaining a healthy weight and being physical activity. Keeping mentally active with reading, puzzles, hobbies, and engaging socially are also important prevention methods for dementia.