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What is Dementia?

Dementia constitutes a group of symptoms showing an overall cognitive decline characterized by issues and impairment of memory, language, judgment, and behavior and is of a chronic or progressive nature.

Dementia is caused by damage to the brain as a consequence of loss of neurons or neuronal connections. The most common cause of dementia is the destruction of cells in the brain. Even though age is considered to be a strong factor of contribution to dementia, dementia problems are not restricted to senile dementia and can also be offset in younger age groups.

Symptoms of Dementia

The symptoms of dementia become pronounced as the stages progress.

At early stages, dementia causes the emergence of symptoms such as:

  • An inability to accept changes to routine
  • Changes in short term memory
  • An inefficiency at multitasking

At later stages, dementia causes symptoms such as:

  • Increased difficulty in communication
  • Lack of personal hygiene

At this stage, it becomes imperative for dementia caregivers to be present to take care of the patient’s needs. At an advanced stage of dementia, complete dependency on the caregiver is to be expected. At this stage finding someone to care for someone with dementia becomes essential. It is ideal to go for long term care at a proper dementia care centre or an assisted living facility.

What causes dementia?

Neurodegeneration is the term used to signify the improper functioning of neurons. As a result of this, the neuron to neuron communication ceases to work efficiently thus affecting the processing of information in the brain resulting in dysfunction thereby leading to a possibility of Dementia. 

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Vascular dementia, reactions to medications, chronic alcoholism as well as tumours in the brain can all lead to neurodegeneration and thereby cause dementia. 

Frontotemporal dementia can be caused by damage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. 

Structural abnormalities in the brain as a result of genetic mutations can cause developmental problems and dementia.

The intake of toxins, such as lead, can lead to dementia.

Diseases affecting metabolisms such as vitamin B12 deficiency as well as disorders due to dysfunction of the thyroid, kidney, and liver can all end up causing dementia.

 

Types of Dementia

Now that we know what causes dementia, let us talk about dementia and its types. As mentioned above, dementia is basically a symptom particular to the disease, and types of dementia vary according to the disease-causing it.

The dementia types include:

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, brain scans along with several prescriptions of medications and therapy recommendations. 

Vascular dementiaAnother 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. Occupational therapy is a great way for frontotemporal dementia treatment as it aims to help the patient get back on their feet by assisting them with understanding how to do their daily tasks properly.

 

Stages of Dementia 

Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning it has the potential to get worse over time. Patients with dementia problems tend to show different types of symptoms as it increases in severity. Here are the stages in which Dementia patients experience cognitive decline:

Mild Cognitive Impairment:  A very common stage among the elderly population, mild cognitive impairment is a disorder where they tend to experience forgetfulness, short term memory loss and might also have trouble remembering things at all. Most patients with MCI do not progress towards dementia or any other mental impairment at all.

Mild Dementia Stage: One of the very early phases of dementia, during this stage, the patients are able to function independently. The signs and symptoms at this stage of dementia are:

  • 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: At this stage, the affected patient might require assistance. Normally, family members are best suited for this task but there are also many dementia caregivers who are trained for taking care of dementia patients. At this stage, patients need care because the disease may now start to interfere with their daily tasks and activities. The symptoms and issues faced by the patients at this stage of the disease 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 the final stage of dementia, during this time, severe mental and physical problems of the patient start to be seen. 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

Understanding these stages of dementia can help caregivers to better understand what the patient is going through. But, it should be noted that patients progress through these stages at their own rate. Timely intervention as per dementia treatment guidelines can help slow down the progression of the disease. 

 

How Is Dementia Diagnosed?

A proper diagnosis of dementia is required to differentiate it from other mental health disorders that may exhibit similar symptoms. Secondly, as discussed above, there are various phases of the disease. Hence, to carry out proper dementia treatment, the right diagnosis is required.

Listed below are all the ways in which dementia is diagnosed:

  • Dementia screening
  • Review of physical symptoms
  • Review of medications
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging scans
  • Psychological screening

Sometimes, Dementia symptoms may also be caused due to two or more other diseases. Such a condition is known as Mixed Dementia. This disease is diagnosed when the doctors believe that more than two diseases are causing the symptoms. These diseases might include Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.

 

How Is Dementia Treated?

Dementia treatment includes treatment of diseases that relate to memory loss, language, problem-solving, and thinking skills- also known as cognitive thinking skills- that have an impact on the overall ability to function. Dementia is not something that happens suddenly, it is gradual and destroys memory and brain cells. It begins mildly and gets severe over time. If there is no early diagnosis or dementia treatment, the disease can make life difficult and make it challenging for the patient to perform everyday tasks. Doctors who offer dementia care understand the differences between normal aging due to senility and how it can decrease any cognitive abilities and dementia. There is no cure for dementia, but dementia treatment India offers plans that can improve the brain and memory.

Along with medication and treatment, doctors at the best dementia care center will suggest that you have a healthy meal plan, along with herbal remedies and dietary supplements. The supplements should include B9, vitamin B12, and Vitamin E. These are prevention treatments that can delay the onset of dementia.

While it is unfortunate to be affected by a disease that affects you physically and mentally, dementia can affect the families of the patient as well. Hence, dementia treatments from the best dementia care centers in India will help you deal with the illness before it gets worse

There are two types of primary dementia treatments that are used to help manage symptoms of dementia. They include medication oriented treatment approaches and non-drug therapies, here we explore the efficacy of both in managing Dementia.

Medications: The most common type of dementia is due to Alzheimer’s diseases, here is the medication that is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: One of the drugs used in senile dementia treatmentia is a chemical called acetylcholine. This chemical is designed to help the patient form memories and improve their judgment capabilities. It may also delay the worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and subsequently dementia.

In most cases, these drugs can also be prescribed together. There can also be side effects of taking this drug. Patients and their caregivers should research about the side effects before going ahead with their medications. These medications can only be prescribed by a licensed medical professional. 

Non-Drug Therapy: In the case of frontotemporal dementia treatment, occupational therapy is the best way to manage the symptoms. This type of therapy takes the help of trained dementia caregivers to help the patient get back on their feet by assisting them with understanding how to do their daily tasks like bathing, dressing or eating properly.

Mixed Approach: Lewy body dementia treatment comprises blood tests, brain scans along with prescriptions of medications as well as therapy recommendations. 

 

How to prevent dementia

There are certain lifestyle changes and even therapies that may help the patient reduce symptoms of dementia and alleviate some of the manageable complications of Dementia. Some of these include:

Changing the environment around the patient: A cluttered environment that is full of noise and overstimulation may make the patient lose focus

Modifying common daily tasks: A therapist or a healthcare provider can also be of help to assist the patient in breaking down everyday tasks like showering and dressing and eating.

Occupational therapy: There are specialized health care providers who help patients with dementia problems perform simple tasks that they may encounter at home, work, and in everyday life. It helps restore a sense of dignity in the patient.

 

Myths and Facts of Dementia

There are several misconceptions and doubts about dementia in the elderly. Let us bust some myths and discuss some important facts about the disease. 

 Myth – Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same

Fact – Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a set of symptoms that might occur for a lot of neurological diseases. According to researchers, there are at least 400 different types of diseases that can damage the nerve cells of the brain, most common among them being Alzheimer’s disease and hence, this one is the most heard about.

 

Myth – Only the elderly people are likely to develop dementia

Fact – One of the most widely prevalent myths surrounding dementia, it is not just the senile who have the likelihood of developing dementia, while of course, it is the most common in the older demographic. People in their 40s can also show symptoms of the diseases in the early stages leading to the early onset of dementia, but this only occurs when they have family members with dementia.

 

Myth – People who are affected with dementia don’t feel emotions

Fact – Dementia patients might understand more than they can express. The trouble with the disease is that the patients have difficulty communicating their emotions. One of the most important dementia caregiver tips is that they should directly speak with the patient and wait for them to gather their thoughts and respond to it. This might take time but in this way, they can improve their communication skills and ask for what they want.

 

Myth – Dementia is a natural part of aging and it happens to everybody

Fact – Ageing related memory loss and forgetfulness has nothing to do with dementia. Dementia occurs when there is an actual degradation or destruction of cells in the brain. While the elderly might be forgetful of a few things, dementia patients might forget their own family members or may have trouble doing common tasks that they have done their entire life.

 

Myth – The risks of dementia cannot be reduced

Fact – Again, dementia symptoms are seen when there is an actual deterioration in the brain cells. For damage of this magnitude to happen, the patient might, of course, have engaged in unhealthy habits like binge drinking for a prolonged period making dementia prevention a reality. So, dementia prevention is possible. By not smoking or drinking alcohol, taking part in exercise and physical activities and eating a balanced diet, people can ensure that they do not become a victim of dementia at a later stage in life.  

 

Myth – Dementia is a death sentence

Fact – It is true that there is still no cure for dementia. But this does not mean that the affected individual cannot live a fulfilling life with the condition. Early diagnosis makes the situation easy for both the patient and caregiver. indulging in exercise, therapy, and medications, sessions at the dementia treatment center the patient can reduce the symptoms and can learn to live functional and more independent lives.

 

Risks Factors for Dementia

There are certain risk factors of the disease that can increase the chances of the patient to actually develop the disease later in life. Here are the risk factors that you should be aware of. 

Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise: According to researchers, lack of exercise over a long period of time can increase the risk of dementia. There is no specific diet that has been known to reduce the risk of dementia in patients but it has been seen that the people who do not follow a balanced diet run a higher risk of developing the disease later in life.

Heavy alcohol use: Drinking large amounts of alcohol or binge drinking has been correlated with a higher risk of dementia. 

Cardiovascular risk factors. Certain diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, a build-up of fats in the artery walls (atherosclerosis) of the patient and obesity have been linked with high dementia risk/ 

Depression and anxiety issues. The relationship between dementia and depression is still not well-understood. But it has been seen that late-life depression might indicate the development of dementia and memory loss.

Diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes may increase the risk of the patient developing dementia later in life.

Long term smoking habits. Smoking over a long period of time might increase the risk of developing dementia and other blood vessels (vascular) diseases later in life. 

Sleep apnea. People who have a habit of snoring and have episodes where they frequently stop breathing while they are asleep may have reversible memory loss in old age.

Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate may increase the risk of the patient developing dementia.

 

Complications associated with  Dementia

Dementia can lead to several physical and mental health complications in the elderly. Such complications include:

Poor nutrition: Many patients with dementia eventually reduce or stop eating because they face excessive trouble with chewing and swallowing food items. This, in turn, affects their nutrient intake, leading to poor nutrition-related problems. 

Pneumonia: The difficulty in swallowing food leads to diseases and complications further. It increases the risk of choking or aspirating food into the lungs, which can block breathing and eventually cause pneumonia.

Inability to perform self-care tasks: With the progress of the disease, it can interfere with taking bath, dressing, brushing hair or teeth, using the toilet independently, and taking medications accurately.

Personal safety challenges: Driving, cooking, walking home or going to nearby stores are some of the daily tasks that people have to generally do alone. With dementia, the people affected cannot take care of these situations alone, leading to personal safety challenges.

Death: The later stages of dementia that occur in very old people can lead to coma or death, mostly due to the development of infection.

 

Living With Dementia

For the elderly, becoming a burden on their families can act as a mental pressure, often leading to further depression. Living with dementia is not easy and hence, caregivers should have a proper understanding of taking care of dementia patients and how they can enhance their quality of life.

Caring for someone with dementia requires patience and strength. Dementia caregivers should make it a priority to engage the patient in exercises, activities like singing, cooking, or painting and maintaining a calendar to jot down upcoming events and other important dates.

 

Dementia and Ageing

The human body goes through several changes at old age. It is absolutely normal for the elderly to forget a few things when they reach a certain age. The brain starts to slow down and many activities that the person would otherwise be able to do diligently might start to feel challenging.

Memory loss is also very normal. But there is a huge difference between forgetting things once in a while and forgetfulness that lasts and is a serious concern. The difference between understanding normal forgetfulness with age and dementia lies in noticing the potential red flags:

  • When the person starts to forget who someone is, especially close family
  • When they start to forget how to do common tasks like dressing up, taking a bath or walking back home
  • When they seem to lack the capability to understand information that has been provided to them in detail

Patients or their caregivers should immediately seek help if these symptoms start to show. One of the most obvious signs is the inability to find their way in familiar settings. 

 

Dementia Prognosis

Patients suffering from dementia often require the support of a caregiver throughout life to go about their daily routine. Patients who are diagnosed with dementia before attaining the age of 70 years, can go on to live for a decade or longer. 

Recent studies have shown that women tend to live longer than men among those affected by this mental disorder. With proper care, support and assistance from caregivers, patients can alleviate their symptoms and live a fulfilling life.

 

Getting Help For Dementia

It can be really stressful to deal with Dementia or have a loved one dealing with the illness. Seeking help and support is essential to help patients lead functional lives. If you or an elderly loved one in the family suffers from Dementia, it’s important to seek early treatment and rehabilitation. Since Dementia is a progressive disorder, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated the better are the chances of managing it successfully. 

Cadabams is India’s leading Mental Health Rehab for Dementia and other serious mental illnesses. Visit our dementia treatment centre in Bangalore and get the best dementia treatment in India under the supervision of well-trained medical experts.

Dementia FAQ: All you need to know 

How can I reduce my risk of dementia?

No longer is Dementia bound by age as today even young folks run the risk of suffering from dementia. To reduce your risk of dementia, you must adhere to the following steps:

  • Be more physically active as regular exercises & aerobic activities can positively affect your heart, blood circulation, weight, and mental well-being
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in protein. Minimize your intake of sugar, less saturated fat, and drink more fluids.
  • Say NO to smoking and cut down your alcohol intake

Does dementia only affect older people?

No, it doesn’t. People who suffer from dementia before the age of 65 are often referred to as young-onset dementia, and getting an accurate diagnosis often proves difficult.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often considered similar to each other, but that’s not the case. Dementia is a group of symptoms that arise due to a decline in memory, reasoning, and other thinking abilities. There’re different types of dementia & is caused due to damage to brain cells.

Alzheimer’s, on the contrary, is a degenerative brain disease & is caused by complex brain changes following cell damage causing impairment in memory, and cognitive function. It triggers dementia symptoms and worsens over time.

Is dementia a natural part of ageing?

Most individuals tend to start forgetting things as they get older. With age, they start getting distracted easily and often struggle with multi-tasking. However, when it is extremely frequent and the individual faces problems with everyday function, then it is a sign of dementia. It is better to get tested early if you suspect dementia systems as early treatment can help slow down the progression of the disease. 

Is dementia disease hereditary?

No, dementia isn’t hereditary. With that being said, out of all variants of dementia, only one form of Alzheimer’s named as Familial Alzheimer’s Disease [FAD] is known to be hereditary.

What can you do once you develop dementia?

There isn’t any cure for dementia, but you can take a few steps to manage the condition and slow down its progression. The possible course of action once you develop dementia includes receiving medical help from a dementia care centre, making lifestyle changes and community support. Developing a positive attitude and support from family and friends is important as well. Once Dementia is progressed beyond a certain point, the patient will have to be taken care of and will require help with day to day activities. Hence shifting the patient to an assisted living facility for dementia will help them lead a comfortable life even with advanced stage dementia.

Is there any disease or medical condition that increase the risk of developing dementia?

According to some studies and research, the risk of dementia is increased by depression, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Down’s syndrome, mild cognitive impairment, type 2 diabetes, etc. For more advice on any medical condition that could increase the risk, you can plan a visit to Cadabams, one of the top dementia care centres in Bangalore.

Is there any test to diagnose dementia?

Yes, there are several tests and procedures that dementia treatment centers use for the proper diagnosis of Dementia. These tests usually aim at evaluating the mental ability of the individual as well as their short-term and long-term memory. Other tests are carried out as well to assess the concentration and attention span. Besides, MSME or the mini-mental state examination, blood tests and brain scans may also be performed.

Where can I seek help for Dementia?

If you or your loved one is concerned about dementia symptoms, it is a good idea to book an appointment and talk to the doctors and specialists at Cadabams, which offers excellent dementia treatment in India. They can address your concerns, perform tests to evaluate your condition, and outline a customized care plan accordingly.

What are the early signs of dementia’s disease?

Every individual is different and hence they show different signs of dementia. Some early signs of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • An abrupt change in behaviour and mood
  • Difficulty in reading and recognizing colour or contrast
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Sleeping more than usual

Call us on our mental health helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details or Dementia related emergencies.

Why Cadabams?

  • 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, 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 personalised care plans to ensure that we bring energy, independence and joy in their lives.
  • Our care team also takes care that you have clear lines of communication with healthcare professionals.

luxurious Living

At Cadabams, we provide clean, modern, fully furnished accommodations with all the necessary creature comforts.

Modern Amenities

Kitchen and dining hall, laundry facilities, indoor games area, yoga and meditation hall, outdoor games area for cricket, badminton, Round the clock psychiatrist and counsellor support, 24×7 ambulance on demand.

Healthy Cuisine

Our everyday menu is curated by Dieticians aimed at providing healthy and nutritious and tasty meals to satisfy everyone’s palate.

Entertainment Options

Recreation facilities such as TV, sports, gym, picnics and outings and more.

People with dementia might become apathetic, have problems controlling their emotions or behave inappropriately in social situations. They may see or hear things that other people do not, or have false beliefs. people with dementia usually need help from friends or relatives, including help in making decisions.

Alzheimer’s

Normal brain cells are replaced with damaged tissue called plaques and tangles

Vascular Dementia

Blood vessels supplying blood to tiny parts of the brain blocked starving that region of oxygen eventually leading to dead brain tissue in that region.

The problems caused by vascular dementia depends upon which part of the brain is affected but some of the general effects are

Fronto-Temporal Dementia

Front part of the brain affected more than other parts.

There are a group of medicines which can slow the progression of dementia.

There is some evidence that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain as mentally and physically active as possible throughout their lives, and have a wide range of different activities and hobbies:

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