Good, basic intro to dementia – definition, types, caregiver burden, etc.

This email might be of general interest since we are all probably interested in the topic of dementia.

A family we are helping with brain donation shared a link to this podcast with me today.  This podcast is a good, basic introduction to dementia.  I wondered if this is useful resource for those with a dementia diagnosis (early stages) or for families just starting out on the dementia journey?  Lewy body dementia is addressed for about two minutes.  And “caregiver burden” is discussed towards the end.

Below, I’ve provided some notes I made while listening to the podcast.  Let me know your thoughts as to who would benefit from listening to this and what, if anything, you learned from it.



How Dementia Works
from “Stuff You Should Know”
Released November 4, 2015

After some chit-chat, this podcast sort of starts at 48:22.  We are told that:

* 5.3 million Americans have dementia
* $226 billion spent on healthcare for dementia in the US

45:07 – Good definition of dementia begins here, including terms such as memory loss, aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, and executive dysfunction.

There’s discussion of:

* Alzheimer’s:  60% of dementia cases; attacks episodic memory first; later affects judgment, personality, and speech

* vascular dementia:  20% of dementia cases; caused by single-infarct or multiple-infarcts

* Lewy body dementia:  5-15% of dementia cases; hallucinations; discovered in 1912; has both symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  38:06 – Lewy body dementia discussion begins here and goes on for about two minutes.

* frontotemporal dementia:  5% of dementia cases; affects personality, behavior, and language; onset between 40-75 years; used to be called Pick’s; apathy, no empathy, blunted emotions, risky behavior

* Huntington’s Disease:  uncontrolled movements, personality changes

* CJD:  one out of a million are affected in any given year; prions

* HIV dementia

* traumatic brain injury causing dementia

* reversible dementias:  vitamin deficiency; medications

Early diagnosis is important!  This point is made around 28:29.  These diseases are managed better and death is delayed by early diagnosis.

There’s discussion of the first appointment with a doctor.

At 15:31, there’s a discussion of “caregiver burden.”  Your risk of death as a woman increases 28% in the first year of your husband being diagnosed with dementia.  For a man, the increase is 22%.

A few things are incorrect:

* FTD isn’t 100% tau protein.  Only about half of the FTD cases involve tau.

* Dementia isn’t ALWAYS memory loss plus one other impairment.  Dementia is impairment in two domains.  One of those domains can be memory.

* MMSEs aren’t very effective at diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia or dementias other than Alzheimer’s.