There are over 400 different types of Dementia. However, as an RN at Oakwood Creative Care, there are approximately 10 types that I see on a regular basis while working with our members.
Over the next few blog posts, I’ll cover the basics of those 10 types. Today, we’ll be discussing the first two: Vascular Dementia and Alcohol Related Dementia.
Vascular Dementia is a general term which describes problems with reasoning, planning, judgment, and memory, caused by damage from impaired blood flow to the brain. (It’s important to note here that not all strokes or TIA’s will cause this damage to your brain! However, they’re a very scary experience that we should all try to avoid.)
Most of us know about the factors that place you at risk…and as we get older, most of us will experience at least some of them.
As a nurse, these factors are a little difficult for me to list — as I also have some of them:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity (hate to say that one!)
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
- Heart disease
With Vascular Dementia, you’ll often hear of doctors referring to strategic infarct dementia, multi-infarct dementia, and subcortical vascular dementia. I won’t go into all of these, as I’m trying to give you basic material that is easy to follow and remember. Hopefully, this will give you tools and a starting point to investigate this type dementia, if that is something you have to deal with in the future.
When a person first has a stroke, please remember that things do get better with time. It’s very important to take advantage of all the therapies (PT, OC, language assistance, etc.) take them all, if you’re able! These are the important key to getting that loved one back to the best they can achieve.
In Alzheimer’s disease – problems with memory, such as forgetting recent events, are often the most prominent symptoms. However, in Vascular Dementia, executive functions (planning, reasoning, judgment, spatial processing, and attention) are often the areas more impaired.
ALCOHOL RELATED DEMENTIA
This type of dementia is caused by many years of excessive alcohol consumption.
In fact, drinking alcohol in moderate amounts has recently been found beneficial for brain health and is associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.
But before we all start running to the bars…the national guidelines recommend no more than 2 standard drinks on any day, to avoid alcohol related health problems.
Many of the symptoms of alcohol dementia are like the other dementia types. The difference with this type is the introduction personality, mood, and problems with social skills.
Excessive alcohol use can damage the brain in many ways, including brain shrinkage, and changes to the heart function (when the blood supply to the brain is reduced, brain cells become damaged). However, if the person completely abstains from alcohol: they can halt deterioration and allow for recovery over time.
Often, excessive drinkers have poor nutrition, as well. This, coupled with inflammation to the stomach lining caused by alcohol, interferes with the body’s ability to absorb vitamins – often leading to a Thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.
A friend of mine from many years ago had to go through this with her Dad. She was my roommate for 3 years while we were in Nursing School, and her parents often stepped in for my own — as I was in New Orleans, and they were several states away in Arizona. When he was a very young iron worker, my friend’s father started with drinking beers with the boys after work. However, I never saw him drunk. He was always wonderful and responsible.
Unfortunately, as the years went by and his wife died, the times changed. The daily beer drinking escalated to adding hard liquor, and his brain showed the damage. It’s very difficult to watch a person and a family have to go through this. So, as I said, limit to 2 drinks a day!
Next week, I‘ll be covering another 2 types of dementia we often see at OCC…see you then!
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