All about dementia
Dementia is a concern for every adult and aging person. It is not pleasant at all to forget and lose control of your routine and life. Strictly defined, dementia affects thought processes (thinking and intelligence), memory, attention, problem solving and attention. Let us take a look at the signs and symptoms of dementia.
Defining the condition
Dementia is not a disease by itself, but is the outcome of a medical condition. Diseases are often the most common causes of dementia. Specifically, Alzheimer’s disease alters the structure of the brain resulting to premature death of cells.
Another source of dementia is stroke or vascular problems causing brain cells to die because of a limited supply of oxygen-rich blood. Other diseases that cause dementia include dementia with Lewy bodies, Pick’s disease (damage to the front part of the brain), HIV and AIDS, Binswanger’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). Those with high levels of glucose in their blood are also at risk of dementia even if diabetes is not present.
* Loss of memory
The most obvious sign of dementia is memory loss. The patient will forget a lot of things such as names and places or directions to go to and from home. It will even be hard to remember what happened a few hours before.
* Mood swings
A person with dementia will suffer mood swings because areas of the brain which control emotion are damaged. In addition, the sufferer is frightened and anxious because of the things which are happening.
* Communication difficulties
Because thought processes and language are affected, it may be hard for the person to talk, read or write.
* Inability to care for one’s self
As dementia sets in, the affected person will not be able to complete everyday tasks limiting their ability to look after themselves.
Tests need to be performed by specialists such as geriatric internist, psychiatrist, neurologist or a neuropsychologist. These screening tests may include Abbreviated Mental Test Score (AMTS), Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MS), and Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI). In interpreting results, the specialist also takes into account the socio-economic, cultural and educational background of the patient.
Unfortunately, dementia is not curable in the majority of cases. There are some breakthroughs in slowing down the onset of dementia such as administration of cholinesterase inhibitors, cognitive and behavioural therapies. Drugs such as Cogney, Aricept, Exelon are approved for treatment of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
In the meantime, researchers continue to try and test drugs such as calcium channel inhibitors, diabetes medications, and antibiotics which might one day be used to treat dementia. Studies are also vigorously undertaken. For the time being, keeping the brain active in old age is extremely important. Retiring later may lower the risk of the disease while playing games, doing puzzles, reading and writing are other things you can do to delay its onset.