Dementia is a collective term used for a group of cognitive difficulties such as memory loss, difficulty in problem solving, logical reasoning and thinking and other behavioural problems. It is usually a progressive condition but some of the dementia symptoms can be reversible in some cases. Dementia is caused as a result of loss of nerve cells in the brain. The symptoms and severity of the condition depends on the affected area in the brain.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia
- Damage to blood vessels supplying the brain which may lead to stroke (vascular dementia)
- Presence of lewy bodies: abnormal mass of proteins in the brain
- Head traumas
- Parkinson’s disease
- Metabolic problems such as thyroid disease
- Certain medications
- Brain tumours
- HIV-Human immuno virus
- Certain infections
- Frontotemporal dementia: degeneration of nerve cells in frontal and temporal regions of the brain
- Long term alcohol and drug use
- Memory loss, the most common symptom usually noticed by a family member
- Short term memory loss such as asking same question repeatedly
- Forgetting where objects have been placed
- Difficulty in logical reasoning and problem solving
- Word finding difficulty
- Communication difficulties
- Difficulty in performing complex, familiar tasks such as paying a bill
- Inappropriate behaviour
- Depression, anxiety, agitation
- Mood swings
Diagnosing dementia may require several tests that helps to differentially diagnose it from other similar conditions.
- Review of symptoms, medical and family history
- Physical examination
- Evaluation of cognitive functioning
- Neuropsychological evaluation
- Imaging procedure such as CT, MRI PET scans
- Blood tests
- Psychological evaluation
The risk of developing dementia can be reduced by the following measures:
- Regular exercise
- Being socially active
- Keep learning and be mentally active
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Maintain good levels of blood sugar, cholesterols and pressure
Dementia has no cure in most cases. Symptoms can be managed with medications and therapies.
- Medicines may be prescribed by your doctor; drugs that regulates or boosts levels of chemical messengers involved in memory and other brain functions.
- Therapies include psychotherapy, occupational therapy, behavioral modifications.
- Modifying the environment such as keeping daily use objects within easy reach, keeping away harmful objects can be practised by family members to help people with dementia cope up with their condition.
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