Dementia is more than just Alzheimer's Disease.  Dr. Pat Zook with the Dementia Community Action Network joined me on WJON to talk about what dementia is, its causes, and treatments.

Zook says dementia isn't something that randomly happens but rather builds up over 20 to 25 years which includes changes inside the body chemistry before the first symptom appears.  He says there are many things that can go wrong in the body that can lead to dementia.  Dr. Zook explains dementia is a syndrome where your brain doesn't work properly.  He says in most cases dementia starts after age 65. Zook indicates there are many different kinds of dementia with Alzheimer's disease being the most common.  He says there are more the 80 different kinds of dementia.

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Dr. Zook indicates that Alzheimer's disease is largely preventable in the majority of cases.  He says prevention should start early when people are 20 to 25 years old.  Dementia risk factors include head injuries, depression, being on multiple medications for years, and genetic predisposition.  Dr. Zook says a biomarker test for those with early symptoms and/or a genetic likelihood can be available for the disease.  He says the recommendation right now is this test should not be done for everyone over 30 years old.  Zook explains this test is not commonly done but he expects it will be in a few years.

Dr. Zook acknowledges that dementia is 100% fatal, accordingly to the literature.  He says people can live with dementia for many years though.  He says common symptoms include short term memory loss, difficulty handling complex instructions, difficulty finding your way through what should be familiar areas, learning new technology, hallucinations, bad behavior, and inadequate job performance.  Zook says family members often notice these symptoms before the person who is suffering them does.

Dr. Zook encourages people to remain social as they get older, remain active with hobbies like wood working, quilting, painting, playing the guitar or writing.  He says these will help maintain cognitive function.  Learn more about dementia through the Dementia Community Action Network.

If you'd like to listen to my 4-part conversation with Dr. Pat Zook, it is available below.






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