Old man suffering with dementia

Dementia: The Science Behind the Disease

Dementia is an umbrella term describing a decline in cognitive function, often caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

• Genetics, such as the APOE4 gene, can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50 times.

• Lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol may also contribute.

• Professional care, medications, therapy, and ketamine can help manage symptoms of dementia.

• Physical activity can benefit those living with dementia by helping to slow down cognitive decline and improve quality of life.

Dementia is a debilitating disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Although there is no cure for dementia, scientists are progressing in understanding the disease and its causes. Here’s a look at the latest scientific research on dementia and what it could mean for the future of treatment.

What is Dementia?

Dementia describes a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life. Symptoms of dementia can include memory loss, difficulty communicating, trouble with problem-solving, and changes in mood or personality. Dementia is most common in older adults but can also occur in younger people due to brain injury or disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease: The Most Common Cause of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that damages nerve cells and causes them to die. This damage leads to a decline in cognitive function and, eventually, death. Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s is caused by genetic and lifestyle factors.

The Role of Genetics in Alzheimer’s Disease

Although the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, researchers have identified several genes associated with an increased risk of the illness. One of these genes is APOE4, which increases your risk for Alzheimer’s by up to 12 times if you inherit it from one parent or up to 50 times if you inherit it from both parents. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who inherits the APOE4 gene will develop Alzheimer’s disease; lifestyle factors also play a role.

Struggling senior with dementia

Lifestyle Factors And Alzheimer’s Disease

In addition to genetics, several lifestyle factors can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Researchers believe that these factors contribute to Alzheimer’s by damaging blood vessels and promoting inflammation throughout the body.

Treatments For the Disorder

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Here are some of those ways:

Professional Care

Nothing can beat professional care when it comes to dementia. Hospice care providers can help with activities of daily living, offer emotional support and guidance, and help manage medical issues associated with the disease. Eventually, they can recover from the condition and live everyday life again.

Medication for cognitive disorders


There are medications available to treat the symptoms of dementia. For example, some medicines work to slow down cognitive decline, while other pills work to reduce anxiety or depression in patients with dementia. In addition, some drugs are prescribed to help reduce agitation or aggression in patients with dementia who may become agitated or aggressive due to the disease.


Therapy can be beneficial for those with dementia as it provides an opportunity for them to express themselves and connect with others on an emotional level. Therapy can also provide structure and support during difficult times and has been shown to improve mood and behavior in some cases. The type of therapy used will depend on the individual’s needs and goals but could include one-on-one counseling, group therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). All of these are effective in treating dementia.


A new and promising treatment for dementia is ketamine, which has been shown to help reduce symptoms in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It works by blocking the NMDA receptor, which is believed responsible for neurological damage associated with Alzheimer’s. While this treatment is still in the early stages of research, it could be a potential game-changer for those with dementia in the future. Ultimately, this can make a huge difference in treating all mental disorders.

Physical Activity

Research has shown that physical activity can be beneficial for those living with dementia by helping to slow down cognitive decline and improving the overall quality of life. Physical activities such as walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, tai chi, cycling, or gardening can help keep the body active, leading to improved mental health and well-being. However, speaking with your doctor before starting any physical activity program is essential, as some activities may not be suitable depending on the individual’s health status.

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