David Cassidy made the heartbreaking revelation that he’s been privately dealing with dementia, a disease that affected both his grandfather and mother. The ‘Partridge Family’ star is facing an brutal battle, and he’s doing it with such strength. Learn some important facts about dementia right here.
1. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells
When brain cells are damaged, they cannot communicate with each other. When that happens, those regions of the brain can’t control their functions — like memory, judgment and movement — correctly. While some forms of dementia are permanent and continue to worsen, sometimes brain cell damage is caused by something that can be improved when treated: alcohol abuse, depression, vitamin deficiency, medication side effects, thyroid problems.
2. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia
Dementia is actually a general term for many different memory loss diseases. David did not disclose what form of the disease he’s suffering from, but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, which makes up 60 to 80% of cases. Early symptoms of the disease include apathy and depression, as well as difficulty remembering names and recent events. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the symptoms become more devastating: poor communication, poor judgement, disorientation, confusion, difficulty speaking and swallowing and walking, and behavioral changes.
3. Dementia is incorrectly attributed to aging
Often, dementia is just considered a normal part of aging, or going “senile” in old age. While some forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, can’t be cured or slowed, some drugs can help with symptoms . Don’t assume someone elderly is just senile!
4. It’s not just an old-age disease
While dementia is usually associated with the elderly — that senility thing again — there are cases of early-onset dementia. Approximately 200,000 people in the United States in their 40s and 50s already suffer from dementia. Doctors generally don’t look for diseases like Alzheimer’s in younger patients, so their symptoms are attributed to something else, like stress.
5. Dementia can be a genetic condition
People who have a family member that suffers from dementia can also get dementia. That seems to be the biggest risk factor for the disease, as well as age, but researchers are still looking for other causes and prevention techniques. Some researchers believe that a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining heart health can play a factor in reducing dementia likelihood.
HollywoodLifers, tell us what you think in the comments.