What is Dementia? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is Dementia

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Did you know that currently more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year? Find out what Dementia is, as well as the symptoms, causes, and treatments available so that you can better help yourself or a loved one.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term that is used when you are experiencing symptoms that affect your memory, your communication skills, and your thinking. Dementia is a term used when these symptoms are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities (a doctor should be notified for any change in cognition so they can properly assess & diagnose).

Who gets Dementia?

Dementia usually develops in the elderly over the age of 65. It is known as a late-life disease for this reason. Once you hit age 65, 5 to 8 percent of individuals have some form of Dementia. By the age of 85, studies show that over half of these individuals have some form of Dementia.

Types of Dementia

Types of Dementia

There are several different types of Dementia. While some are more manageable than others, they are not reversible.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease. The most common cause of Dementia. It is thought to be caused by abnormal build up of proteins (amyloid and tau) and accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles. Common side effects of Alzheimer’s disease are short-term memory problems and struggles making decisions.
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Dementia from Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders
  • Lewy Body Dementia. Caused when Lewy bodies develop in and around the brain. Common side effects include hallucinations, difficulty assessing distances, and short-term memory issues.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia. It is caused when brain cells die because of clumps of proteins developing within them. This happens on the front and sides of the brain.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Symptoms of Dementia

There are many different symptoms of Dementia. Someone who is experiencing Dementia will not necessarily have all the symptoms but have a variety of symptoms.

  • Memory issues
  • Asking the same question multiple times / not remembering they asked it
  • Struggling to find the right word to say or understand words
  • Feeling out of sorts / confused in a place that is unfamiliar
  • Struggling with money and numbers
  • Anxiety
  • Struggles planning or carrying out various tasks
  • Changes moods quickly
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Becomes more obsessed with certain things

The symptoms of Dementia become more severe over time.

What do you do if you think you or a loved one has Dementia?

What do you do if you think you or a loved one has Dementia?

If you think you or a loved one may have Dementia, you will want to make an appointment with your Primary Care doctor. He can then refer you to a specialist or confirm and diagnose you with Dementia.

Discovering you have Dementia in the early stages can help you create a long-term treatment plan ahead of time to help plan for the future.

While at the doctor, they will ask you about your medical history, family medical history, as well as ask a variety of questions about your memory and behavior. Oftentimes medical professionals will ask to talk to close family members to see if they have seen any signs of Dementia.

It is possible that they will do a physical examination, run lab tests, and/or perform cognitive tests.

You might even undergo brain imaging so that the doctors can look at your brain to rule out things such as clots and tumour’s. These scans can detect patterns of lost brain tissue to help them understand different dementia syndromes.

When should you see a doctor if you think you have Dementia?

If you, your family, or close friends begin to notice changes in

  • Memory
  • Behavior
  • Personality
  • Cognitive Thinking
  • Things become more difficult than you used to be able to do on a daily basis.

Then it may be time to go consult with your doctor.

Are there different stages of Dementia?

Are there different stages of Dementia?

According to the World Health Organization, there are three different stages of Dementia. They are broken down into early Dementia. Middle, and late-stage Dementia.

Early Stage Dementia

In early-stage Dementia, it is very hard to determine if an individual, in fact, has Dementia. Signs may include:

  • Becoming more forgetful than normal
  • Often loses track of time
  • Feels lost in places that are familiar to them

Middle Stage Dementia

When middle-stage Dementia sets in, these symptoms seem a little more noticeable. These could include:

  • Forgets names easily / forgets events
  • Feels lost in familiar places
  • Struggles to communicate
  • Changes in behavior
  • Asks questions more than once
  • Needs help with self-care

Late Stage Dementia

When late-stage Dementia sets in, it is usually noticed by everyone that is around them. They usually need full-time care, and the symptoms are pretty severe. These include:

  • No longer knowing who you are
  • Has no concept of time
  • Struggles to recognize loved ones
  • Struggles to walk
  • Severe behavioral changes commonly include aggression.

What causes Dementia?

Dementia can be caused by several factors. The first one is when the brain cells and neurons continue to die over time. When this occurs, this is known as Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia can also be caused by trauma. Trauma can include strokes, brain tumors, or head injuries. This causes damage and then the death of the cells in the brain.

Other causes of Dementia can be caused from:

  • Depression
  • Vitamin B12 or E deficiencies
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Drug Use

How do you treat Dementia?

How do you treat Dementia?

With most types of Dementia, there are no cures currently. The treatment that is available currently will only help manage the symptoms.

There are currently three drugs available to help manage dementia symptoms. They are

  • Donepezil
  • Galantamine
  • Rivastigmine

Other ways to help manage Dementia is

  • Following a healthy diet.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Seeing your doctors regularly.
  • Following a good sleep schedule.
  • Has a good support network made up of family and caregivers.
  • Therapy.

Caregiver consulting-If you live in Texas, you can consult with me, Your Dementia Therapist, to help identify areas of concern to help you better care for your loved one living with dementia.

Whether you are in the early stages of Dementia or late stages of Dementia, it is important to know what Dementia is and how to treat it. By knowing these things, it can help you build a treatment plan that works for you while you coordinate different care options with your doctors and your family.

References

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