The Affect of Dementia on the Brain

This video provides an overview of dementia and how it impacts the brain (time: 2 minutes).

While it is common for people to become more forgetful as they age, dementia is not a natural part of getting older. Rather, dementia is a disease that diminishes and destroys the way one thinks, processes information, reasons, and behaves. While approximately half of all dementia diagnoses are Alzheimer’s disease, and in fact, is the most common dementia diagnoses, there are many different types of dementia. These diagnoses include Parkinson’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Vascular dementia, to name just a few. Regardless of the type of dementia diagnosis, as the disease takes over and affects the brain, it becomes impossible for one to live independently. Watching as a loved one succumbs to dementia is difficult and painful. However, understanding the disease process allows one to have reasonable expectations as far as prognosis and outcome.

Dementia is a disease that slowly takes over one’s healthy brain and functioning, affecting the brain on both a structural and chemical level. For lack of a better analogy, it can be thought of as a weed that slowly over takes a garden, until there is nothing left but weeds.

On a structural level, the nerve cells in the brain (which are used to communicate and carry messages) of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease start to become smaller and eventually die as dementia progresses. Because of this, communication between nerve cells is interrupted. On top of that, on a chemical level, the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that communicate information) that are generally transmitted from one nerve cell to another nerve cell are used up and depleted. Therefore, it becomes impossible for the brain of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease to function properly.

It is because of this affect of dementia on the brain that someone with Alzheimer’s disease struggles with their brain functioning and faces difficulty with processing information, thinking clearly and rationally, and making decisions.

This video provides an overview of dementia and how it impacts the brain (time: 2 minutes).

A brief overview of dementia, how it affects the way the brain works and why.