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What Is Mixed Dementia?

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Every day, millions of families across America are impacted by dementia. Dementia is a general term used to refer to memory conditions that impact cognitive function, such as Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. Some individuals may develop more than one form of dementia, and this is referred to as mixed dementia

Mixed dementia can present new challenges for the individual with the condition and their loved ones. However, it is possible for individuals with dementia to live fulfilling lives. Many individuals with the condition may benefit from the comprehensive and tailored care provided by a memory care community

Memory care communities are specifically developed to meet the needs of seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Moving into a memory care community can be an especially good option for individuals with more comprehensive care needs than what can be met at home. 

Understanding Mixed Dementia

The term dementia can be used to refer to a range of progressive memory conditions that impact an individual’s cognitive functions, including memory and decision-making. 

The most common types of dementia include: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 60–80% of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s can be characterized by the accumulation of protein deposits in the brain that cause damage to parts of the brain that control thought and memory. In most cases, Alzheimer’s will progress gradually, over the course of several years. 
  • Vascular dementia: Vascular dementia is caused by a disruption of blood flow to the brain, which can cause damage to brain cells. Vascular dementia may occur rapidly after a stroke, causing a sudden onset of symptoms. 
  • Lewy body dementia: Lewy body dementia is closely associated with Parkinson’s disease and may present more physical symptoms than Alzheimer’s. 

It is possible for an individual to develop more than one form of dementia—this is referred to as mixed dementia. 

Symptoms of Mixed Dementia

The various forms of dementia often present similar (and at times indistinguishable) symptoms from one another. When an individual has mixed dementia, they may be more likely to develop symptoms than if they only had one form of the disease. 

While dementia may impact everyone differently, common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulty with language
  • Changes in mood or behavior

Risk Factors for Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia most often impacts seniors who are 65 and older. While age is the most significant risk factor for any form of dementia, there are additional factors that may increase your risk of developing one or more forms of the condition: 

  • Other health conditions: Medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure may increase your risk of dementia. A history of mental health problems, specifically depression, may also increase your risk. 
  • Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors such as smoking and consuming too much alcohol can put you at a higher risk of dementia. As can being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle. Social isolation has also been linked with dementia in seniors. 
A senior man with a cane smiles and laughs while sitting outside with a nurse and other seniors.

Diagnosing Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia is a complex condition that requires a careful diagnosis and management plan. The diagnosis process for mixed dementia often involves a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s medical history, cognitive function, and brain imaging. 

An individual with dementia may have a hard time identifying that there is anything wrong. Because of this, it is important to keep an eye on your loved ones for the potential symptoms of dementia and consult with a healthcare provider if you notice any changes in their cognitive abilities or behavior. 

Life with Mixed Dementia

With ongoing management and support, it is possible for individuals with mixed dementia to live fulfilling lives for years to come. By working with healthcare professionals, individuals with mixed dementia and their loved ones can develop a comprehensive care plan that addresses the challenges associated with this condition and helps to maximize the individual’s quality of life.

How to Treat Mixed Dementia

Treatment options for mixed dementia will depend on what forms of dementia an individual has been diagnosed with. In the case of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, individuals may benefit from prescription medication. Some individuals with dementia may benefit from cognitive and behavioral therapies to help keep the brain active. 

While studies and trials are ongoing for additional dementia treatment options, a common approach to dementia treatment is to treat the underlying conditions that may be contributing to dementia. This may include adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise and a healthy diet. 

Memory Care for Mixed Dementia

Dementia is a progressive condition, and this means that it will almost always continue to get worse. Individuals with dementia may find that they need additional support with day-to-day tasks and require a higher standard of care than what can be provided at home. 

A memory care community can provide individuals with dementia the around-the-clock support and medical care to support their safety and standard of living. These communities provide a range of services specifically tailored to individuals living with dementia. 

Find Dementia Care Near You

Dementia can be a difficult condition to navigate, however, support is available. Our knowledgeable and experienced team at Meadowcrest at Middletown is here to provide your loved one with the compassionate dementia care that they deserve. To learn more about our Compass Memory Care Community, contact our team.

Written by Meadowcrest at Middletown

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