Memory Loss/Alzheimer’s Disease Tops People’s “Fear Factor” List

Memory Loss/Alzheimer’s Disease Tops People’s “Fear Factor” List.  Obesity & Type 2 diabetes don’t scare people anymore.  The most common cause of these diseases will be covered below.

There was an article in this weekend’s paper about how exercise can keep you from “losing your mind.”  I thought it was a very appropriate point at this time of year.  Between all of the holiday activities and events and the stresses that go along with that, on top of our already hectic, stressful “regular” lives, we can often feel like we are literally “losing our minds!”

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey states that exercise can keep your brain from eroding, and helps to prevent the ravaging effects of aging on the brain.  He also says that unfortunately, obesity and Type 2 diabetes seem to have lost their “fear factor”, but people are still afraid of losing their minds.

Maybe you are reading this and you’re in your 20’s or 30’s.  Did you know that how you treat your body TODAY has a huge impact on how healthy and clear your mind is in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

It is indeed scary to think about not being able to function independently – not being able to drive or go where you want to – always being dependent on someone else to eat, get dressed or even go to the bathroom.  It would be so sad to not be able to recognize the people and places you love.  Having dementia or being diagnosed with Alzheimers would be devastating.

Dementia isn’t a specific disease. Instead, dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Many causes of dementia symptoms exist.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of a progressive dementia, accounting for 60-70 percent of all cases of dementia.

These symptoms might include language difficulty, loss of recent memory or poor judgment. In other words, when an individual is said to have dementia they are exhibiting certain symptoms. With a thorough screening including blood tests (to rule out other causes of dementia such as vitamin deficiency), a mental status evaluation, neuropsychological testing, and sometimes a brain scan, doctors can accurately diagnose the cause of the dementia symptoms in 90 percent of the cases. (It is true however, that Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed with complete accuracy only after death, using a microscopic examination of brain tissue, which checks for plaques and tangles).

Memory loss generally occurs in dementia, but memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia. Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment or language. Dementia can make you confused and unable to remember people and names. You also may experience changes in personality and social behavior.

Although in most cases the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease isn’t known, two types of brain cell (neuron) damage are common. These include plaques and tangles. Plaques are clumps of a normally harmless protein called beta-amyloid, and tangles are fibrous tangles made up of an abnormal protein called tau protein.  However, some causes of dementia are treatable and even reversible.  In next week’s blog we will cover the main causes of dementia and what damages brain neurons. Then we’ll tell you the easy things that you can do everyday, to prevent it in the first place.

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