A decline in cognitive function is called dementia. It’s not a disease but it may affect behavior, language, thinking, and memory. Dementia is caused by various injuries or illnesses and ranges from mild to severe. Depending on the stage or type of dementia, the decline might be reversible, treatable, or progressive. If left untreated, dementia gets worse over time and triggers personality changes. Read on to learn more about dementia and why it’s critical to seek an early diagnosis.
What are the Types of Dementia?
Different people suffer from different types of dementia and thus struggle with different symptoms. In general, there are 5 most common types to pay attention to:
- Parkinson’s disease: People suffering from this disease tend to develop dementia that is characterized by symptoms, such as depression, paranoia, irritability, judgment, and reasoning.
- Lewy body dementia: It occurs when deposits of protein in nerve cells make the brain unable to send chemical signals, causing memory loss, delayed reactions, and lost messages.
- Vascular dementia: It is caused by poor blood circulation in the brain. This results in plaque buildup in the arteries that supply the brain with blood, triggering the symptoms of dementia.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be the most common dementia type as it makes 60-80% of all dementia cases.
- Frontotemporal dementia: It consists of a few types of dementia and is affected by alterations in the brain’s side and front parts. The symptoms are the loss of inhibitions and difficulty with behavior and language.
What are the Stages of Dementia?
Since dementia is a progressive condition it has 4 stages:
- Mild-cognitive impairment (MCI): Elderly people are at risk of developing MCI and they experience short-term memory issues, trouble recalling words, and forgetfulness.
- Mild dementia: This stage allows a person with dementia function as usual, albeit they may have trouble expressing their ideas or emotions, struggle with the problem and difficult task solving, experience forgetfulness, personality changes like irritability or depression, and short-term memory lapses.
- Moderate dementia: This stage interferes with daily activities and tasks and requires additional help from a care provider or a family member. The symptoms are drastic personality changes, difficulty with bath time and dressing, significant memory loss, increased frustration and confusion, and poor judgment.
- Severe dementia: This stage requires a full-time attention and care and results in the symptoms like weak immunity, poor communication, and difficulty to properly keep bodily functions, such as swallowing, walking, and bladder control.
What are the Symptoms of Dementia?
Depending on the stage and type, dementia has the following symptoms:
- Trouble recalling how to complete the daily tasks that you’ve easily been doing for years.
- Confusion and difficulty to remember people.
- Apathy and losing interest in things you enjoyed doing before.
- Mood swings, anger, frustration, and depression.
- Difficulty to follow storylines.
- Losing a sense of directions and forgetting familiar places.
- Being repetitive, which means saying or doing the same thing or activity multiple times without remembering it.
- Difficulty to recall and associate words.
- Significant changes in short-term memory-making.
- Difficulties to accept the change.
What are the Causes of Dementia?
Lots of factors lead to dementia development, but still there are several most common causes of this condition:
- certain infections or tumors of the brain;
- chronic alcoholism;
- medication side effects;
- vascular dementia;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- corticobasal degeneration;
- supranuclear palsy;
- Pick’s disease;
- frontotemporal dementia.
In some cases, dementia can be triggered by:
- toxins like lead;
- metabolic disorders like vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, and liver or kidney disorders;
- structural brain disorders like subdural hematoma and normal pressure hydrocephalus.
How is Dementia Diagnosed?
There’s no single test that can diagnose dementia in people, so doctors have to use several exams and tests to determine dementia. They diagnose a certain dementia type based on a careful physical examination, a medical history, lab tests, and memory, thinking, and behavior changes. While it’s not difficult for a doctor to diagnose dementia, it’s difficult to figure out the exact dementia type since the brain changes and symptoms of various dementias tend to overlap. Geriatricians and neurologists can help with determining a type of dementia a person suffers from.
How is Dementia Treated?
There are two ways to treat dementia, such as non-drug therapies and medication-assisted treatments. Non-drug therapies help to relieve the symptoms of dementia and they’re divided into three categories:
- Daily task management therapy. This helps you manage your daily tasks better by breaking them down into small, manageable activities or tasks.
- Environment modification. This involves eliminating any overstimulation, noise, and clutter that worsen the symptoms of dementia.
- Occupational therapy. This involves teaching doing daily tasks like driving, cooking, or walking in a safer and more secure way.
Finding a community where you’ll receive a proper care, support, and needed therapies can significantly relieve the symptoms of dementia. There are communities like Seasons Memory Care that provide dementia care regardless of whether you stay at home or live in within the community. The key to a successful dementia treatment is always support and professional care.
Can Dementia be Prevented?
According to the latest dementia review, over one-third of all the dementia cases are the results of various lifestyle factors, such as social isolation, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, late-life depression, hearing loss, midlife obesity, midlife hypertension, and a lack of education. By modifying your lifestyle in your early age can significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Dementia affects people older than 65 years old and it can reduce life expectancy. Nowadays, more and more studies are conducted to find out the triggers of each dementia type and how to ward them off. Scientists believe that living a healthy lifestyle can be the key to reversing dementia. It’s also important to diagnose dementia early and seek a professional help to avoid all the possible complications.
Despite the fact that dementia isn’t considered to be a disease, it still requires special treatment and care. If left untreated, the negative consequences may follow.