Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive abilities among people, beyond what is normally associated with the aging process.
It can reduce ability to learn, reason, retain or recall past experience, or cause the loss of thought patterns, feelings and activities. It may result from avoidable causes such as abnormal Brain Injury (static) or may result because of a long-term illness of the body (progressive) Most types of dementia are considered to be degenerative, and cannot be reversed. That is, the factors in the brain that are causing the dementia cannot be stopped or turned back.
Medical conditions that May Lead to Dementia (progressive)
The Following illnesses May Lead to Dementia,
- Huntington’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Infections such as HIV/AIDS and Lyme disease that may affect the brain
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pick’s disease
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
Avoidable causes of Dementia (static)
The Following Causes of Dementia May Be Able to Be Avoided,
- Brain injury
- Brain tumors
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Changes in blood sugar, sodium, and calcium levels
- Low Vitamin B12 levels
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Use of certain medications, including cimetidine or cholesterol lowering medication
Symptoms of dementia are progressive; they start mild and get worse with time. It may begin with mild “forgetfulness” and gradually escalate. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Common symptoms for dementia include,
- Memory loss, particularly memory of recent events; forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions again and again
- Finding tasks and activities that need organization and planning
- Finding unfamiliar environments confusing
- Finding conversation difficult, trouble with finding “the right words”
- Having problems with numbers and handling money
- Personality and mood changes
As the Condition worsens, the Following more Obvious Symptoms Maybe Observed,
- Change in sleep patterns, often waking up at night
- Difficulty doing basic tasks, such as preparing meals, choosing proper
clothing, or driving
- Forgetting details about current events
- Forgetting events in your own life history, losing awareness
- Hallucinating, having arguments; violent behavior
- Delusions and agitation
- More difficulty reading or writing
- Poor judgment and loss of ability to recognize danger
- Withdrawing from social contact
Treatments and Therapies
Most types of dementia can’t be cured. However, treatment of dementia symptoms may help slow or minimize the development of symptoms.
Drugs and Medication for Dementia
Cholinesterase inhibitors. These medications boost levels of a chemical messenger involved in memory and judgment. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These medications are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia and Lewy body dementia.
Memantine. Regulates the activity of glutamate. A common side effect of memantine is dizziness. Some research has shown that combining memantine with a cholinesterase inhibitor may have beneficial results.
Many dementia symptoms and behavior problems can be treated at first through the use of non-drug approaches, such as therapies:
Occupational therapy. Doctors may at times suggest occupational therapy to help patients adjust to living with dementia. Therapists help to teach patients how to cope behaviors and ways to adapt movements and daily living activities as their conditions change with the advent of dementia.
Modifying the environment. The reduction of confusion and distracting racketwill make it easier for someone with dementia to focus and function. It also helps to reduce confusion and annoyance.
Modifying responses. Caretakers should understand that their response can make the agitated behaviors worse. They should avoid correcting and quizzing a person with dementia. Reassuring the person and validating his or her concerns can defuse most situations.
Modifying tasks. Tasks should be broken-down into easier steps and focus should be given to success, not failure. Having structure and routine during the day can reduce confusion among patients.