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What is the Connection Between Dementia and Memory?

Article Details
  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Dementia can be described as a collection of symptoms that are a result of changes in the brain that can severely affect a person's quality of life. In order to be diagnosed with dementia, a person must have at least two important brain functions affected. The connection between dementia and memory is that memory loss is often one of the symptoms that can be evident in people who have dementia.

In addition to the connection between dementia and memory loss, other symptoms are connected with dementia. These symptoms can include paranoia, inability to make decisions, and difficulty in learning and retaining new information. Other symptoms can include personality changes, loss in coordination, and hallucinations.

The relationship between dementia and memory loss can be subtle as some memory loss can be a natural part of aging. In addition, memory loss can also be associated with other medical conditions. These medical conditions include depression, strokes, and head injuries. Drug use and alcoholism can also affect the memory.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. The short-term memory of a person who has Alzheimer’s disease is likely to be affected first. Short term memory can be described as information or memories that are kept in the memory for up to a couple of hours before being discarded. As this disease progresses, long term memory, which stores information for a long period of time, might also be affected.

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There are other types of dementia in addition to Alzheimer’s disease that are progressive, or become increasingly worse, over time. These include vascular dementia, which can coexist with Alzheimer's disease. Symptoms of vascular dementia can occur with people who have high blood pressure or have had heart attacks or strokes. Like Alzheimer's disease, one of the symptoms of vascular dementia is memory loss.

In some cases, dementia and memory loss as well as other symptoms may be stopped or reversed. For example, if the problem is caused by drug interactions, bleeding in the brain, or leukemia, the symptoms and dementia may be stopped or diminished when those underlying conditions are treated. Other medical conditions that lead to dementia and symptoms of dementia that might be stopped or reversed include heavy metal poisoning and brain tumors.

Treatments for progressive dementia focus on minimizing and controlling symptoms to prolong a better quality of life. These treatments include drugs that might help with memory, such as cholinesterase inhibitors. In addition, doctors may prescribe antidepressants as well as drugs to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol as required.

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