Research has shown people who are isolated have a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Let’s talk about dementia and Alzheimer’s for a minute. Occasionally, I hear those two terms used interchangeably and they really shouldn’t be. Let’s start with my favorite part: Definitions! According to good ol’ Merriam-Webster:
Dementia is usually a progressive condition marked by the development of memory impairment, difficulty understanding speech and/or speaking, and the inability to plan or initiate complex behaviors.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disease “that results in progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation, and changes in personality and mood.”
By these definitions, dementia is the symptom and Alzheimer’s is the disease. Just like not all cookies are chocolate chip cookies and not all cars are Ferraris. I realize for those caring for or living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you know the difference and the horrors of each and I am not making light of either with my examples but merely trying to explain the differences.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia but not the only culprit. Other common causes of dementia include Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Frontotemporal Dementia which affects personality and speech but not memory. There are many other causes of dementia that are not as common as those mentioned.
What we are talking about are the affects of isolation on the brain. Socialization, belonging, and support may not prevent these horrible diseases but they can definitely decrease the risks.
For more information, please go to the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association at www.Alz.org or if you are in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area, Memory Matters on the Island is an amazing resource and program.