3 of the Most Common Diseases That Affect Cognition in Seniors

Age unfortunately has a detrimental effect on our cognition, especially the ability to memorize and recall. However, natural age-related cognitive degeneration is a gradual process, and its effects are not debilitative at any point. Unfortunately, age-related cognitive decline is often (but not always) accompanied by degenerative brain diseases as well. While age itself is not a cause for neurodegenerative conditions, it’s certainly the most common risk factor.

Most of the conditions related to cognitive decline in seniors are irreversible. However, it is possible to manage with professional care, so that the disease cannot progress as quickly as it would without counter measures. Recognizing the symptoms and acting early on is what makes all the difference. To that end, let’s take a quick look through the three most common brain conditions and the symptoms that lead to cognitive decline in seniors.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly diagnosed age-related, lethal brain disease within the senior population in United States. It’s so common that many use Alzheimer’s as a synonymous term for dementia, even though that’s incorrect.

Dementia is a cluster of symptoms exhibited by patients suffering from a range of other neurological diseases as well. The most common and the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s include, but are not limited to short-term memory loss, illogical judgement calls, uncharacteristic stammering, personality shifts, and loss of previously present speech articulation.

If someone in the family is exhibiting any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms, contact a physician first and get the right diagnosis. Post diagnosis, you will need to find professional assistance to keep them out of harm’s way and provide the care they need. There are senior living communities in Nashville that can help your loved one lead a longer, safer, and more fulfilling life.

Vascular Dementia

Seniors suffering from vascular dementia exhibit symptoms of dementia from an early stage, but they are very difficult to distinguish from the early and middle stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In most instances, vascular dementia is preceded by a heart attack, or more commonly, a cerebral stroke. Sometimes, the event might be so mild that it remains undetected for a long time.

The only telltale difference between vascular dementia symptoms and those of Alzheimer’s is in how they progress. Although Alzheimer’s disease speeds up neurodegeneration, it’s still a gradual process. Symptoms of vascular dementia progress abruptly, which can be much faster or much slower than the degeneration observed in Alzheimer’s patients. Only a physician can confirm vascular dementia after going through the necessary medical examination results.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is rare, as compared to the two mentioned above and it isn’t necessarily a lethal brain condition. Also, detecting the early signs of Parkinson’s is much easier, as they differ quite a bit from the signs and symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Parkinson’s is associated with symptoms such as tremors, joint stiffness, facial stiffness, slow movements and processing, loss of balance and motor coordination, poor sleep quality, and only at the latter stages, memory loss.

Note that there are several other brain conditions that also affect cognition in seniors, but they are significantly rarer than any of the three conditions mentioned here. Nevertheless, conditions such as Lewy body dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and frontotemporal dementia are each a possibility to consider for the physician in charge.



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