Understanding Dementia

November 20, 2019

Brooklyn elder law lawyers know that understanding dementia can help seniors protect their future interests.Dementia is an increasingly common affliction. The term dementia refers to a number of neurological conditions that affect a person’s cognitive abilities, including memory, language, critical thinking, judgment, and performing basic activities. Early detection of dementia can be the key to slowing its progression, so it is important to understand what dementia is to recognize the signs.

There are a variety of conditions that are classified as dementia, each with unique symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with dementia are memory loss, misplacing objects, forgetting to go to appointments or pay bills, changes in behavior or personality, confusion, or trouble communicating. The causes of dementia can vary just as much; some, such as thyroid issues or vitamin deficiencies, can be effectively treated, while others may ultimately be fatal. Alzheimer’s disease is the result of plaque forming in the brain, whereas vascular dementia is the result of microscopic bleeding or blood vessel blockage.

Dementia Differs from Normal Aging

Dementia is often confused with senility; as people age, there can be some cognitive decline that takes place. Disorders that fall under the dementia classification are caused by damaged brain cells and are simply not part of the aging process. The most common of these disorders is Alzheimer’s, accounting for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases, but it is not the only form of dementia, and the terms cannot be used interchangeably.

Dementia disorders target specific areas of the brain that control certain functions. Dementia often targets the hippocampus first, impacting the patient’s memory and learning ability. While some areas may see progressive damage, however, other areas may be left unharmed. For example, many assume that dementia patients with trouble speaking are not aware of their surroundings, but they may still be fully present and understand what is going on, even if they cannot respond verbally.

There are some risk factors that are outside of a person’s control, including genetics and age. Dementia does not just affect the elderly; some patients may be at risk for early-onset dementia. There are ways that patients can decrease their risk, however. Remaining physically active increases brain mass, which can help slow the progression of dementia disorders. Maintaining good cardiovascular health can help oxygen flow in the brain, and social interaction can help brains stay active.

A dementia diagnosis can raise complicated questions. As most dementia disorders are progressive, there may come a time when patients cannot care for themselves or manage their finances. Thoughtful estate planning can help dementia patients prepare for whatever comes their way and ensure that their affairs will be managed by someone trustworthy. An experienced elder law attorney can help patients sort through these issues and develop a comprehensive plan.

Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Help Seniors Protect Their Future Interests

The Brooklyn elder law lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP have the knowledge and experience to help individuals and families plan for their future. We understand that every person is different, and we will provide customized estate planning solutions to meet your needs. With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we help families throughout Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York. Call us today at 212-495-8133 or contact us online for an initial consultation.