Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s, is a degenerative disease. Dementia is the decline in mental ability, memory, or other cognitive skills, in a way that it begins to interfere in daily living and is progressive/degenerative.
It may be an early warning sign of dementia if you’re becoming increasingly forgetful. In reality, dementia isn’t a specific disease, but a word used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when the brain cells stop functioning properly. Dementia is attributed to the loss of mental ability, and it deteriorates a patient’s thought and memory functions. This article provides you with a brief overview of the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and types of dementia, along with the treatment approaches.
Types of Dementia
Unlike other mental disabilities, dementia is not termed as a disease but a description. It includes a wide spectrum of symptoms. While these are irreversible, the other major types of this disease are caused by thyroid, alcohol abuse, depression, medication side effects, and vitamin deficiency, and the cure for these cases does exist. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms would steadily get worse as the brain cells get older. It is treatable up to an extent and becomes incurable for irreversible symptoms.
As mentioned before, dementia cases are symptoms of a disease. Various illnesses can cause different types of dementia. There is no one type of “test” to determine dementia causes, but a collective level of tests is done, after which the neurologist will specify the onset of dementia with certainty. However, they may not be able to specify the type of dementia.
The most common types are:
- Alzheimer’s: This is the most common type of dementia, and it makes up for sixty to eighty cases.
- Vascular: This type of dementia is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. It can be due to plaque buildup in the arteries or due to a stroke
- Lewy Body Dementia: This occurs when there is protein build up in the nerve cells. This prevents the brain from receiving or sending chemical signals, which results in memory loss and delayed reactions.
- Parkinson’s disease: Patients suffering from this illness can develop dementia. Symptoms for this type of dementia include paranoia, depression, and issues with judgment and reasoning.
Symptoms of Dementia
Unlike other diseases, dementia has a set of two groups of symptoms: reversible and irreversible symptoms. These symptoms depend on the etiologies of the disease and are usually subtle. Sometimes, it is hard to recognize them for many years. The most commonly seen symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Problems with language
- Abstract thinking
- Difficulty in performing routine tasks
- Reduced or poor judgment
- Disorientation of place and time
- Frequent changes in mood, behavior, and personality
- Misplacing things
- Loss of initiative
The speed at which symptoms get worse is based on the causes of dementia information that can vary from person to person.
Causes of Dementia
The mere presence does not lead to a categorization of dementia but must significantly affect 2 of 5 core mental abilities- memory, communication, language, getting easily distracted, visual perception, reasoning, and judgment.
Many other causes can lead to memory impairment or other thinking skills, and this is the time to consult a professional because they may be in the reversible category and can respond well to treatment.
Dementia is primarily caused by damage to brain cells. If the brain cells don’t communicate normally, thinking power, feeling and behavior can be affected. Different types of dementia are linked with certain types of brain cell damages. Most changes in the brain that cause dementia are enduring.
Thinking and memory problems are caused by medication side effects, depression, and excess use of alcohol, vitamin deficiencies, and thyroid problems. Dementia could be categorized in different ways and are clustered by what they have in common. Categories of dementia that aren’t reversible include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
Diagnosis of Dementia
The early onset of Dementia is less complicated. Dementia generally occurs at 65 years of age, and as early-onset goes it occurs in the age group of 40 to 50 years. They have three distinct phases: early-middle-late.
However, the challenge lies in the diagnosis. As dementia does not occur in this early stage of life, doctors rarely look for dementia symptoms leading to a long waiting time before an accurate diagnosis is done. However, it has been determined that there are a group of rare genes that are hereditary and can cause “familial Alzheimer’s disease”.
The negative impact of breaking the news can be hard on the individual, along with the impact on the job at hand, and the effect on overall family life. However, a comprehensive study and help from professionals can make the patient’s lifestyle healthy and fill it with hope.
On the other hand, Senile Dementia has a better chance of diagnosis as it occurs at a later chronological age and causes memory function impairment. There are two basic categories: the one that is related to age is called atrophied Alzheimer’s, and if it’s due to stroke, it’s called “vascular”.
Senile Dementia is often interchangeably used with Alzheimer’s. The Western countries have a lot of hope as you can join trails on these diseases, be part of social security, and the larger social effort at rehabilitation. In Bangalore, help is available at hand at neuro-psychiatry hospitals. Early intervention by a team of professionals makes this brain-degenerative disease accurately diagnosable, and it leads to the execution of a plan of action for prognosis which gives hope to the patient and their family.
Treatments for Dementia
In most cases, dementia can’t be reversed. Treatment programs for dementia depend upon their causes. There is no treatment for progressive dementias including Alzheimer’s disease, but drug treatments may temporarily improve symptoms. Non-drug therapies could also be used to alleviate some symptoms of dementia. A few cases of dementia are caused by medical conditions that can be treated. The basic treatments prescribed by doctors are:
- Administration of thyroid hormones for hypothyroidism
- Conducting surgery if the cause of dementia is a tumor
- Intake of vitamins for cases with deficiency of vitamin B12
- Medicines are prescribed to treat infections affecting the mental state
- Medicines such as memantine, inhibitors, and antidepressants are prescribed to ease agitation, aggression, anxiety, and hallucinations
Dementia FAQs: Your queries answered
What are the seven stages of dementia?
- Stage 1- During this stage the disease is not traceable and signs are barely evident
- Stage 2- Very mild decline
- Stage 3- Mild to moderate decline
- Stage 4- Moderate decline
- Stage 5- Moderate to a severe decline
- Stage 6- Severe decline
- Stage 7- An extremely severe decline
What are the warning signs of dementia?
The top early warning signs of dementia include:
- Memory loss that will interfere with your daily routine
- Having trouble solving problems or making simple plans
- Feeling disoriented or confused about a time or place
- Having trouble understanding spatial relationships and images
- Facing problems with speaking or writing
We have over two decades of experience in handling the rehabilitation and unique needs of elderly dementia patients. Our services are distinguished by the expertise of our healthcare professionals, the calibre of our caregivers, and the responsiveness of our staff. Our cognitive therapeutics focus on fun ways to keep the patient’s minds of your loved ones sharp and active.
We don’t just offer caregivers for seniors. We also work with families to deliver world-class personalized care plans to ensure that we bring energy, independence, and joy to their lives.
Our care team also ensures that you have clear lines of communication with our healthcare professionals.
You can call us on our mental health helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details on dementia treatment.