How Dementia Affects Your Loved One

by December 7, 2020

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are grievous conditions that disturb how a patient functions and thinks. Due to a number of debilitating changes these diseases have on the brain may not make it easier to assist one who suffers from such a condition. Nevertheless, you may find that this knowledge provides you a better perspective of what dementia sufferers go through.

Tysons Woods is a small assisted living community staffed by experienced caregivers who provide excellent services to our patients. Our community includes two specialized and fully-equipped residences located at the heart of Vienna, VA. These facilities provide top-quality memory care support as well as day-to-day care, on-call nurses, and much more. And thanks to our small size, we can ensure all our elder residents receive the personalized care they deserve.

Below, we describe the effects that arise from the gradual strain of dementia:

The Physical Changes That Cause Dementia

“Plaques” and “Tangles”

The underlying conditions that result in symptoms of dementia come from changes among the nerve cells within the brain. In particular, protein clusters form between and within nerve cells. They crop up in parts of the brain involved in memory, learning, and thinking, causing further damage over time.

The clusters found between nerve cells are called beta-amyloid plaques. These plaques first appear when the parts of a brain’s neuron that maintains growth and survival breaks down. The defective neuron produces the beta-amyloid plaques, which gathers between other neurons, damaging the neuron’s function to communicate and affects the protein that’s significant in helping neurons communicate with the hippocampus.

The changes caused by plaques reduce neuron functioning, curb the number of neurotransmitters produced, and prevent neurons from communicating. This process alone undercuts a person’s mental faculties.

Also, the protein clusters found within nerve cells are known as tau tangles. These twisted strands of protein ravage neurons by blocking cells from receiving crucial nutrients. These blockages, as well as the effects of the beta-amyloid plaques, kill thousands of brain cells, and destroy the brain’s ability to function normally.

Brain Inflammation 

Along with tangles and plaques, brain inflammation due to Alzheimer’s contributes to cell deaths. The inflammation itself can damage the brain and even increase the number of tau tangles therein.

The Physical and Mental Effects Of Dementia

The physical and chemical changes caused by the growth of plaques and tangles result in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. But these diseases also produce a few physical and mental effects.

One physical effect is the shrinkage of a patient’s brain size. As dementia develops and thousands of cells die, the brain loses tissue and becomes smaller. Patients in the latter stages of dementia can have a brain that is one-third the size of a person without dementia.

A wide range of mental effects also occur, including:

  • The gradual loss of memory
  • Losing orientation of time and place
  • “Confabulation” or holding a narrative of events that have never occurred
  • Remembering and reliving memories as if they are the present
  • Difficulty in finding the right words to use
  • Limited, garbled, or vague speech
  • Inability to organize thoughts

These effects eventually cause the patient to lose their ability to communicate and recognize their loved ones. Although these effects are difficult for both patients and their families, they can be eased with the help of skilled caregivers with experience helping such patients.

Tysons Woods: Quality Assisted Living & Memory Care Support in Vienna, VA

For over 15 years, Tysons Woods has provided seniors and their families with comfortable, personalized elder care. Our assisted living facilities are fully staffed with trained and experienced nurses who provide round-the-clock services. Our caregiving options include hospice assisted care, dementia care, and thorough memory care support.

With two locations in Vienna, VA, we have become one of the best assisted living communities in Northern Virginia, and we desire to continue offering devoted care to your elder loved ones. Contact us at (703) 846-0395 for more information about our facilities and services.