By Jennifer Hay
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Extra resources for Alzheimer's & Dementia: Questions You Have...Answers You Need
If a person has developed dementia symptoms in the course of any of these illnesses, she will retain those symptoms. Fortunately, as we discuss in Chapters 5 and 7, there are management techniques and medications to help alleviate some dementia symptoms. Parkinson's Disease Q: Before we get to that point, I need to know more about what's causing those symptoms in the first place. Since you mentioned Parkinson's disease first, let's start with that. What exactly is it? A: Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that causes a deficiency of the neuro- Page 43 transmitter dopaminea chemical necessary for transmitting messages in the brain.
So changes in or damage to the brain can alter our feelings and behavior, essentially changing our personalities. As you know, Alzheimer'sand many of the other diseases and disorders that cause dementia, for that matterdestroys brain cells and damages the brain. It also alters amounts of important brain chemicals. Q: Let me get this straight. You're saying that the emotional symptoms of dementia are caused in part by reactions to intellectual losses and in part by physical changes in the brain.
That does not mean, however, that they are the only ones. Remember, more than 70 diseases, disorders and conditions can cause dementia symptoms. We tackle the most common causes of irreversible dementia in the next chapter. Page 41 3 Causes of Irreversible Dementia Q: What are the causes of irreversible dementia? A: The most common cause is Alzheimer's disease, which may be responsible for up to 75 percent of all cases of true dementia. Vascular dementia, caused by problems with the blood vessels, is also a major cause.