Alzheimer's is a difficult disease to deal with, especially when another brain disorder comes into play. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are around 5.3 million people in the United States who are living with Alzheimer's. A number of those people suffer from mixed dementia, which makes it even harder for the patient and their friends, family and loved ones.
Mixed dementia is defined as dementia that is caused by multiple medical conditions. Alzheimer's disease and vascular disease is the most common form of mixed dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association, brain autopsies have shown that up to 45 per cent of people who were suffering from dementia exhibited signs of both vascular disease and Alzheimer's. It is believed that the two diseases combined affect the brain more than one by itself.
Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
There are several factors that contribute to mixed dementia. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, abnormal heart rhythms, diabetes, artery disease, obesity and smoking are believed to be directly related to mixed dementia. This is due to the fact that these conditions are risk factors for a stroke, which compromises blood flow to the brain. If your doctor suspects that you have mixed dementia, there are various tests that he may perform on you to confirm his diagnosis. These tests include: CAT scans, MRIs, PET scans, dopplar ultrasounds and neuropsychological tests. After your doctor determines the results of your diagnostic tests, he can suggest the best method of treatment for you. There are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs available for the treatment of mixed dementia. Two drugs that are used to treat Alzheimer's disease, Razadyne and Exelon, have both been shown to have a modest effect on the symptoms of mixed dementia. Speech therapy and cholinesterase inhibitor therapy also help the symptoms of mixed dementia. It is very important to treat underlying factors that are causing the dementia, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Managing Your Symptoms
Mixed dementia patients often exhibit the same symptoms of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. These symptoms include: confusion, memory problems, poor concentration, depression, dizziness, weakness in the extremities, loss of bowel or bladder control, slurred speech, abnormal behaviour, language problems, wandering, getting lost and laughing or crying without reason. Even though there is no cure for mixed dementia, there are things that can help you in your everyday life. The most important thing to remember is not to put too much pressure on yourself. Stressing yourself out will only make your condition worse and make it harder for you to concentrate. Bring a notepad with you everywhere you go. This will allow you to make note of important events so you don't forget about them. Also, be sure to keep emergency contact numbers in the front of the notepad so people will know who to call if you have a problem. Do crossword puzzles and memory games to help exercise your mind and keep it sharp.