Here's everything else you need to know about Dementia
Dementia is a condition that mainly affects people as they get older. It is characterised by a set of symptoms that include general cognitive decline, memory, language, judgement, and behaviour impairment. The condition is persistent and worsens over time. Dementia is caused by brain impairment as a result oft the loss of neural connections and the progressive elimination of brain cells. Dementia is most commonly associated with the elderly.
Individuals with dementia may experience acute anxiety and paranoia as a result of their symptoms. Caregivers may endure discomfort when caring for a loved one, which can have a negative impact on their health. Cadabam's understands your and your loved one's psychological requirements as they navigate the emotional path of Dementia. Our multi-specialty team of mental health specialists provides exceptional geriatric psychiatric care as well as caregiver assistance to ensure that you or a loved one receives the care they require.
Symptoms of Dementia
As the various stages of dementia progress, symptoms become more pronounced. In earlier stages, the following symptoms may be noticed:
- An inability to accept changes to routine
- Changes in short term memory
- An inefficiency at multitasking
As the disorder progresses, the following symptoms may be seen at later stages:
- Increased difficulty in communication
- Lack of personal hygiene
As the symptoms worsen, it is crucial for dementia caregivers to provide the individual with dementia constant care and support. As the stages advance, the patient becomes completely dependent on the caregiver and hence, finding long term care at a proper dementia care center is highly recommended.
Causes of Dementia
Neurodegeneration is one of the possible causes of dementia. It impairs the functioning of neurons and thus, affects neuron to neuron communication. This impacts how information is processed, thereby leading to dysfunctions in behaviour and brain function.
Biological Causes: Damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain could cause a type of dementia called Frontotemporal Dementia. Genetic mutations that cause structural abnormalities in the brain can also lead to dementia.
Environmental Causes: The intake of toxins such as lead, has been linked to the development of dementia.
Other Disorders: It is possible that disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Reactions to Medications, Chronic Alcoholism, as well as tumours in the brain could lead to neurodegeneration, and thus, dementia. Disorders caused due to dysfunction of the thyroid, kidney, and liver can also cause dementia.
Types of Dementia
- Vascular Dementia - A common type of Dementia is caused by damage to the vasculature that supplies blood to the brain. This type of Dementia can occur due to a brain stroke as well.
- Frontotemporal Dementia - It is a group of dementias that are characterised by damage to the frontal and temporal areas of the brain. Frontotemporal dementia causes damage mostly in terms of speaking ability, personality, and behavior.
- Alzheimer's Disease - It is the most common cause of dementia and is caused by the aggregation of proteins called plaques and tangles causing the brain cells to waste away.
- Lewy Body Dementia - It is caused by the formation of balloon-like clumps in the brain of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Lewy body dementia treatment comprises blood tests and brain scans along with several prescriptions of medications and therapy recommendations.
- Mixed Dementia
Stages of Dementia
As Dementia progresses over time, the symptoms start worsening and increasing. This progression of the disorder can be divided into stages based on the types of symptoms exhibited. It is important for caregivers to understand these symptoms to get a better understanding of what the patient is going through. Timely intervention can help to slow the progression of the disease or manage the symptoms in each stage.
Mild Cognitive Impairment: During this stage, common symptoms include forgetfulness, short terms memory loss and difficulty remembering things. However, it is also possible that some individuals do not progress to further stages of dementia from here.
Mild Dementia Stage: Since this is an early phase, individuals are still able to function independently. The common symptoms during this stage include:
- Extreme cases of short term memory loss
- Forgetfulness and frequently misplacing things
- Struggling to express emotions even though the patient might have been an extrovert
- Trouble managing emotions, displaying signs of irritability, anger and depression
- Inability to take part in complex tasks like problem-solving and decision making
Moderate Dementia Stage: During this stage, the individual might start requiring assistance. They may have trouble carrying out every day activities. Family members could take up these tasks, but there are also trained caregivers who are capable of taking care of individuals with dementia. The common symptoms during this stage include:
- Poor judgment about matters
- Increasing confusion, frustration leading to increasing irritability
- Very significant personality changes
- Inability to help themselves dress or take a bath
- Severe memory loss
Severe Dementia Stage: During this final stage of dementia, the individual could start facing severe mental and physical problems. These symptoms include:
- The inability to maintain any bodily functions like walking, talking properly, swallowing food or controlling the urinary bladder
- Losing the ability to communicate with others, even close family members
- Completely dependent on caregivers
- Increased risk of infections
Diagnosis of Dementia
In order to diagnose dementia, it is first necessary to differentiate it from other psychiatric disorders that exhibit similar symptoms. Also, since there are various phases of the disease, it is necessary to carry out a thorough evaluation to reach the right diagnosis.
The following steps are taken to diagnose dementia:
- Dementia screening
- Review of physical symptoms
- Review of medications
- Blood tests
- Imaging scans
- Psychological screening
When a clinician suspects that two or more disorders are causing the symptoms, the diagnosis is known as Mixed Dementia. Dementia can occur alongside Alzheimer’s Disease of Vascular Dementia.
Treatment of Dementia
An early diagnosis of dementia can make it easier to manage symptoms of dementia. Its treatment requires specific symptoms such as memory loss, language, problem-solving, etc. to be treated individually. Though there is no cure for Dementia, Cadabam’s is the best center for dementia treatment, where we strive to improve the functioning of the brain and memory.
There are primarily two types of dementia treatment available to manage symptoms of dementia. These include medication and occupational therapy.
Several types of medication are used to help increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that may slow down the effects of dementia. An example of this is Cholinesterase Inhibitors which help to delay the worsening of Alzheimer’s symptoms, and thus of dementia as well.
It is important to note that medication should only be prescribed by a psychiatrist and that side effects should be taken into consideration before medicating.
- Occupational Therapy:
Occupational Therapy is an effective way to manage dementia symptoms. It helps the individual to regain functionality with the guided help of caregivers. This therapy aims to help the patient understand how to do daily tasks such as bathing, dressing or eating properly.
- Lifestyle Changes:
Along with medication and therapy, it is also suggested that the individual follows a healthy meal plan with dietary supplements and herbal remedies. Vitamin B9, B12 and Vitamin E are also suggested to potentially delay the onset of dementia.
At Cadabam's, we realise that the family members of the individual with dementia may also go through distress. Hence, our treatment modalities include family therapy and caregiver support to ensure that your emotional wellbeing is maintained while you take care of your loved one.
Rehabilitation for Dementia becomes a necessity during the moderate and severe stages. Individuals become fall risks and pose the risk of wandering off. Families also find it difficult to manage their loved ones at home as they have their own responsibilities and problems. This is when dementia care units and rehabilitation become very important. They provide trained interventions for the individual and respite from caregiving duties to the families.
“Rehabilitation for dementia is largely about keeping the elderly individuals engaged and preventing rapid deterioration of the individuals condition. There are multiple types of rehab- short-term rehab, long-term rehab and day-care facilities. The challenge is to ensure that the elderly remain engaged and their time is being effectively used,” explains Dr. Priya about rehabilitation for Dementia.