The brain tissue in a person with Alzheimer’s has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections, and the total brain size shrinks.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a neurodegenerative condition linked to abnormal structures in the brain.
The brain changes involve a protein called alpha-synuclein.
At first, Alzheimer’s disease typically destroys neurons and their connections in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus.
It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behaviour.
Dementia isn’t a single disease.
Many of these diseases are associated with an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain.
This build-up causes nerve cells to function less well and ultimately die.
As the nerve cells die, different areas of the brain shrink.
- Trouble holding urine (incontinence)
- Increase in memory loss and forgetfulness.
- Inability to use or find the right words and phrases.
- Difficulty doing challenging mental maths exercises, such as counting backwards from 100 by 7.
- Increase in social withdrawal.
One of the main topics of discussion when someone is diagnosed with dementia is the “stage” of the disease — a marker of how far it has progressed.
Dementia symptoms can range from mild memory loss to more severe cognitive difficulties that make it hard to manage daily activities without help.
These symptoms are broadly grouped into categories called stages that help guide doctors and families in their care of dementia patients.
“Usually we think of memory loss as a continuum,” explains Raj C. Shah, MD, medical director of the Rush Memory Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Dementia is defined as chronic memory loss, ultimately affecting quality of life.”