Dementia: A look at the causes, symptoms, and how they can be remedied.
A condition called dementia causes loss in cognitive function (i.e., the capacity to process thinking) beyond what can be anticipated from the typical effects of biological ageing. It is often chronic or progressive in character. Memory, reasoning, direction, understanding, computation, learning ability, language, and judgement are all impacted. Consciousness is pared Changes in mood, emotional regulation, behaviour, or motivation are frequently present with the impairment in cognitive function, and they can even occur before it.
Dementia is a condition that can result from various factors, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or other injuries that affect the brain either directly or indirectly.
In the world today, dementia is one of the primary causes of impairment and reliance among older people and the sixth largest cause of mortality among all diseases. Dementia affects people physically, psychologically, socially, and economically, as well as their caregivers, families, and society at large. Dementia is frequently misunderstood, which leads to stigmatisation and obstructs to diagnosis and care.
The signs and symptoms of dementia vary based on the underlying cause, but frequent ones include:
- Cognitive alterations
- Impaired memory, which is typically observed by another person
- Having trouble speaking or finding the right words
- Having trouble with vision and spatial awareness, such as getting lost when driving
- Having trouble thinking clearly or solving problems
- Planning and organising challenges
- Coordination and motor function issues
- Disorientation and confusion
- Psychological alterations
- Behavioural changes
- Inappropriate conduct
If you or a loved one exhibits memory issues or other dementia signs, consult a neurologist. Determining the aetiology is crucial since some medical disorders that may be treated might manifest as dementia symptoms.
Dementia occurs as a result of brain cell damage that disrupts communication between these cells. When this occurs, cognitive, behavioural, and emotional functions can be affected. Because the brain is divided into various specialized regions, damage to specific cells can impair the proper functioning of a particular area.
The following variables raise the chance of dementia, even though the majority of alterations in the brain that induce dementia are irreversible and get worse over time:
- Age: Ageing is the biggest known risk factor for developing dementia, with most instances affecting those over 65.
- Family background: A person's likelihood of getting dementia increases if they have parents or siblings who have the disease.
- Race/ethnicity: African Americans are twice as likely as whites to get dementia as they age. White people are 1.5 times more likely than Hispanics to suffer from dementia.
- Unhealthy heart: If untreated, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking all raise the risk of dementia.
- Traumatic brain damage: Dementia risk might be increased by head traumas, particularly if they are severe or recurrent.
The doctor will go over the patient's medical history, do a physical examination, and administer cognitive tests. Based on the medical history and physical examination, other tests may be conducted.
These tests might consist of:
- Urine and blood tests
- A chest X-ray
- A brain scan (MRI or CT scanning)
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) (EEG)
- Examination of the spinal fluid
They use certain standards to identify dementia. These consist of:
- Impairment of attention
- Spatial, motor, and linguistic abilities
Since brain cell loss cannot yet be stopped, there is presently no cure for the majority of dementias. However, treatment can be to control symptoms.
The signs of Alzheimer's disease could be lessened by several drugs. In the United States, three medications classified as cholinesterase inhibitors are authorized for use. These are donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), and rivastigmine (Exelon), which can also aid in the management of Parkinson's disease's behavioral symptoms.
Another option is to use memantine (Namenda), an NMDA receptor antagonist, either by itself or in conjunction with a cholinesterase inhibitor.
Although there is currently no cure for dementia, an early diagnosis can sometimes halt the disease's progression, allowing the patient to retain their mental capacity for a longer period of time.
A diagnosis enables dementia patients to receive the best care and support. Additionally, it can aid in their future planning and that of those closest to them.
Early detection of your dementia diagnosis helps you make preparations with your family for a fulfilling quality of life and to organize your legal, financial, and healthcare goals. Your healthcare team, which consists of doctors, social workers, hospice staff, and pastoral care providers, is prepared to inform, assist, and look after you or a loved one. Inquire about nearby dementia support groups from your team as well. Sharing care advice and feeling less alone are two things that support groups may assist with.