About Dementia: Dementia 101

A Brief Overview of Dementia

Are you wondering what dementia really means?

Dementia is an umbrella term - it covers A LOT of things. At this point, we know there are over 120 different types, causes, and forms that are under the umbrella of dementia. Not-normal changes are something to get curious about, but they don't necessarily mean DEMENTIA! A changing brain is something that you may or may not notice, in fact 50% of people living with dementia are unaware that they are experiencing changes - a condition know as anosognosia. So what makes something a dementia?

Take a look at this photo:

Who in this photo is living with dementia?
Impossible to tell?!
Yep!
Because dementia affects the brain chemistry long before the symptoms may show, dementia often looks like NOTHING has changed, but in reality EVERYTHING has changed! With dementia, it can feel like I'm choosing to do things to hurt others or to make life more difficult, but it might be that I simply can't get my brain to do the things it used to do so well.

Four Truths of Dementia:
  1. At least 2 parts of the brain are actively dying.
  2. It is progressive (always changing - chemistry then structure changes)
  3. It is a chronic condition (there is no cure or treatment that will stop, turn around, or fix it)
  4. It is terminal (but so is life!)
"I am truly doing the best I can with a brain that is changing..."
Image

At the end of life with dementia,
the brain is one third its original size.
*used with permission from Alzheimers:The Broken Brain, 1999 University of Alabama

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