Category Archives: Dementia

The A to Z about dementia

There are several conditions in life whose impact can affect one’s daily life a great deal. One such condition is the loss of memory. Memory loss is also called dementia. The most common and widespread type of dementia is Alzheimer. Alzheimer contributes to at least 70% of all cases. After a stroke, a person may suffer from vascular dementia.

Dementia is not a disease. Rather it is a combination of symptoms that result in the decline in memory. A person’s thinking ability is impaired to the extent that they are unable to perform the daily activities.

Care should be taken when discussing senile dementia or senility. Senile dementia is deterioration of mental faculty due to old age. In the case of senile dementia, there is not only memory loss but also the loss of control of body functions. The mental decline should, therefore, not be looked at as part of aging.

Symptoms of dementia

The symptoms vary a great deal. However, impairment of the core mental functions below will be a pointer to dementia.

  • Visual Perception.
  • Poor judgment and reasoning.
  • Inability to pay attention and focus.
  • Poor communication and language.

Loss of memory

People suffering from dementia may not remember to keep appointments, pay bills, tracking of events etc.

Dementia starts and progresses gradually. In the end, it gets worse. It is important, therefore, that the symptoms are flagged early so that treatment and prevention measures can start. The persons suffering from dementia can also join the various clinical studies and trials going on.

Causes of dementia

Majority caused by damage to the cells in the brain. This causes the cells not to effectively communicate. The lack of effective communication among brain cells affects the behavior, thinking, and feeling. The type of dementia that a person is suffering from is determined by the brain which is damaged and in which region of the brain. For example, the hippocampus is the brain region which is responsible for memory and learning. This brain region is always the first to be affected. This explains the reason as to why memory loss is the number symptom of Alzheimer.

Conditions that lead to brain damage are permanent and only get worse with time. However, there are some memory and thinking problems that can improve if properly treated. These conditions
are:

  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Thyroid problems
  • Reducing intake of alcohol
  • Side effects of medication
  • Depression

Diagnosis of dementia

There is no definite test for dementia. Diagnosis is done based on the medical history, physical examination, laboratory testing and observing changes in the thinking, functions and behavior patterns.

The main challenge during diagnosis of dementia is determining the type that a person is suffering from with precision. This is due to the fact that the brain changes and symptoms tend to overlap.

It is, therefore, appropriate that the advisory opinion of a gero psychologist or neurologist is sought.

Treatment and care for dementia

The treatment prescribed largely depends on the cause. For progressive cases of dementia, there is neither cure nor treatment to stop or slow the progression. However, there are drugs that briefly recover symptoms. Non-drug treatment can also help.

Prevention of Dementia

Doing physical exercises will increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain.

Dieting is also important. What is eaten greatly affect the brain health? Emphasis should be placed on fruits, whole grains and small quantities of red meat.