Dementia is a broad term for conditions associated with progressive brain decline. There are many misconceptions surrounding dementia and two of the most common is that it is a disease and memory loss is the main symptom. In fact, dementia describes a cluster of symptoms associated with brain damage and memory loss is not initially associated with certain types of dementia.
Huntington's disease, for example, is unique in several respects.
Unlike other types of dementia, Huntington's disease is inherited from a person's parents.
"It is caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4 — one of the 23 human chromosomes that carry a person's entire genetic code," according to the Alzheimer's Association (AS).
Another unique feature of Huntingdon's is that it usually develops between ages 30 and 50, but can appear as early as age two or as late as 80, notes the AS.
As the health body points out, lots of things can cause these symptoms, so it's a good idea to get them checked.
"Your GP may suggest having a test for Huntington's disease," it adds.How to manage symptoms
Although there is currently no cure, there are many ways to get help with the symptoms and challenges of living with Huntington's disease.
"It can be helpful to consider any lifestyle or practical changes you have not already made, that might make life easier - for example see living well, employment, emotional support and financial matters," according to the Huntington's Disease Association (HDA).
There are also different types of care that you might need to access at different times.
According to the HDA, these include:Social care - help with things like washing and dressing, that is arranged privately or through the adult social services department of your local council.Medical care from healthcare professionals - the involvement of neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, dieticians, speech therapists and other professionals can also enable you to manage your symptoms more effectively and positively.Care in a nursing or residential home, should this at some stage be the best option for you or the person you are caring for.
"If you meet certain criteria, you may qualify for NHS continuing healthcare which means the NHS is considered responsible for providing for and fully funding all your needs in any setting," it adds.
This could be in your own home, a care home, or hospice.
There's currently no cure for Huntington's disease or any way to stop it from getting worse.
But treatment and support can help reduce some of the problems it causes.
According to the NHS, these include:Medicines for depression, mood swings and involuntary movementsOccupational therapy to help make everyday tasks easierSpeech and language therapy for feeding and communication problemsPhysiotherapy to help with movement and balance.
"Research into new treatments is ongoing and there have been some promising results recently," adds the health body.