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Dementia is Not a Death Sentence

July 29, 2014

Do-People-with-ADHD-Qualify-for-the-Disability-Tax-CreditBy year 2031, nearly 1.4 million Canadians will be living with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia. At this rate, by year 2040 dementia will cost the Canadian economy 293 billion dollars.

These facts are sobering but when wrapped in the guise of media speculation, broadcasted repeatedly in news headlines and special reports, these statistics are downright scary.

There is no doubt about it, AD is a frightening topic that needs to be discussed, but is there too much noise surrounding the issue? Are facts being properly represented in the news? Or are media outlets doing nothing more than scaring people?

This article intends to distinguish fact from fiction in regards to Alzheimer’s disease. It is purposed to present the facts by answering these questions: what do people need to know about AD and other dementias? What is the progression of Alzheimer’s? How can a person enjoy life after being diagnosed with an irreversible form of dementia?

Dementia is Not a Death Sentence

The rise of Alzheimer’s can seem like a plague in this era. How people discuss this form of dementia can greatly influence the way people discuss this disease in years to come. Moving forward, it will be important to debunk the stigmas that surround this issue. Until science and medicine develop cures for dementia, the disease is here to stay but may not be as bad as it seems.

Getting diagnosed with dementia is not a death sentence. Some forms can be stalled, while other types of dementia can be reversed. For instance, hydrocephalus is a medical condition caused by liquids in the head causing the brain to swell. While dementia is a side effect of this diagnosis, it can often be reversed when the liquid is drained. More so, some nutritional deficiencies can cause signs of dementia but are often remedied with an increase of vitamin supplements. In addition, depression, substance abuse and brain tumors are other causes of dementia symptoms that can often be treated.

Some Forms of Dementia are Irreversible

Unfortunately, not all forms of dementia can be stopped or treated. While Alzheimer’s is the most prominent irreversible form of dementia, there are other types that need to be considered as well.

Here are three types of dementia that are subject for deeper study:

  • Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) often occurs in people who have had strokes. It is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain.
  • Lewy body dementia is caused by foreign protein clusters that develop in the brain. It is common to see Lewy bodies show up in people who have Parkinson’s.3
  • Tauopathies occur when clumps of a protein known as tau are present in the brain’s nerve cells. This causes cells to die. Related forms of dementia include Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD), which is the result of losing nerve cells and brain shrinkage. Another form of dementia that is sometimes tied to tauopathies includes Frontotemporal disorders (FTD).

This diagnosis considers a variety of brain diseases that hinder the functioning of the frontal and temporal lobes.

Often times, AD is only diagnosed after many other forms of dementia have been considered and ruled out. Alzheimer’s is the gravest form of dementia, as it is responsible for 60 percent of all dementia diagnoses (“2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures”).

As people of the Baby Boomer generation reach 65 years in age and older, the rates of Alzheimer’s are expected to increase. While it is important to learn about the disease and other forms of dementia, it is valuable to understand dementia for what it is and not what media makes it out to be. A neurodevelopmental disease is cause for alarm but attempt to put this fear aside.

Dementia is not a death sentence. It is a reality. Learn what it is and what it is not. This can help guide the future understanding of this disease.

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