Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, not to a specific disease. The word “dementia” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “out of mind.” The symptoms of dementia include forgetting information, losing track of time, and confusion. People with severe dementia have difficulty caring for themselves, and it is dangerous for them to live alone. Seeing an elderly relative lose their memory slowly can be heartbreaking, as is imagining a future where you cannot remember most of your life experiences or the people with whom you experienced them. The thought is so disturbing that it is a reason that people procrastinate estate planning. It is important to hope for the best but prepare for the worst; a Northern Kentucky long-term care planning lawyer can help make the planning process more manageable and less scary.
The Most Common Causes of Dementia in Elderly People
Dementia can have many different causes; in most cases, it is not possible to diagnose the cause while the person is alive. Diagnostic imaging of the brains of living people can give some insights into the cause of dementia, but the most specific diagnoses can only be made during an autopsy of the body after the person's death. These are some possible causes of dementia in people above the age of 65:
- Alzheimer's disease accounts for more than 60% of dementia cases. It is characterized by a type of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which have been described as plaques and tangles. In the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, the entire brain shrinks.
- Vascular dementia results from the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the brain; some patients with vascular dementia also have a history of stroke.
- Lewy body dementia is due to a type of protein buildup, known as Lewy bodies, in the nerve cells. This diagnosis includes two separate diseases; in dementia with Lewy bodies, dementia is the earliest and most debilitating symptom. In Parkinson's disease, motor symptoms are the most severe and the earliest to appear, but patients might also develop dementia as the disease progresses.
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome derives from a deficiency in vitamin B1. Most people who receive a diagnosis of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome have a history of long-term, heavy consumption of alcohol.
The best way to prevent dementia is to maintain your physical and mental health as well as possible throughout your life. Even people who are physically healthy and have no family history of the disease can be affected by it. Therefore, it is best to plan with the assumption that you will eventually need long-term care.
Contact Darpel Elder Law About Preparing for Memory Care
As scary as the thought may be, dementia can happen to anyone. An elder law attorney can help you understand your options regarding memory care and develop an appropriate plan to pay for your car in the event that you need it. Contact Darpel Elder Law in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, or call (859)341-4100.