What is Dementia?
Dementia is a gradual decline in mental capacity. It influences the intellectual capacity and social capacity which causes to make daily life difficult. Dementia can change the memory and the judgment which results in a state of disorientation and transform the personality.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and it affects about 5% of people aged over 65 years. It occurs more frequently among segments of the population who are advancing in age and 20 % to 25% of people over the age of 80 are affected. Approximately 5 % to 10 % of dementia cases are vascular origin, because they are the result of a cerebral vascular accident. At least 10 % of cases of dementia are due in part to Alzheimer’s disease and in part to a series of strokes.
Dementia is not an acute disorder that occurs suddenly or that usually requires emergency treatment.
Dementia can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Brain injury
- An abuse of drugs
- The side effects of some medicines
- Abnormalities of the thyroid function
- Deficiency of vitamin B12
- In some cases, the dementia can be reversible or slowed down when its underlying cause has been treated
Advancing age and a family history of dementia are risk factors which are added the following:
- High blood pressure
- Rise in the blood cholesterol
Unfortunately, when the dementia is due to disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury or to damage to the blood vessels, then subsequent changes are irreversible.
Research on the cause and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease allows a better understanding of this disorder and create every day of new hopes. Several possible causes have been established including genetic factors, exposure to toxins, abnormal production of proteins, viruses and poor irrigation of the brain. Aging and heredity (genetic factors) are considered as the factors that play the most important role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular dementia is caused by a series of strokes that cause the death of cells in certain regions of the brain. This disorder causes a loss of mental abilities, which may be sudden, progressive, or gradual and constant. The short-term memory is usually affected first.
Dementia Symptoms and Complications
We sometimes forget where we left our car keys or we tell again the same story to a friend or a family member. These behaviors can be explained generally by an overload of information due to an active lifestyle and stressful and are not necessarily signs of dementia. As people age, their memory sometimes works differently.For example, it happens more slowly the information that reaches them. This type of change is normal. Dementia is,on the contrary, progressive,disabling and is not due to the normal aging process.
The true symptoms of dementia are a progressive loss of memory and other mental abilities. The dementia makes an individual unfit to perform routine tasks of daily life. Sometimes, it can also cause changes in behaviour or personality.
Among the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Gradual loss of memory of recent events, and the inability to learn new things
- An increased tendency to repeat itself, to lose things and to manifest the confusion
- Progressive disintegration of personality, judgment and social skills
- An increased propensity to irritability, anxiety, depression, confusion and agitation
Among the symptoms of vascular dementia include:
- Sudden loss of memory or other mental functions
- Symptoms of stroke (e.g. paralysis, speech disorders and loss of visual acuity)
- Modification of the approach
- An early loss of control of bowel or bladder
- Seizures are sudden without reason and laughter or tears
Dementia is diagnosed by the study of the symptoms which have preceded by a physical examination. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions to assess your cognition as whole of the brain functions associated with memory, the evocation of memories, decisions, language, the recognition of daily objects and familiar to the ability to follow guidelines.
Ct brain can highlight the changes that have taken place in the structure of the brain. A ct scan or magnetic resonance imaging are useful to help identify the conditions (e.g. a stroke) that may induce dementia.
The final confirmation of the diagnosis can only be obtained after a biopsy which will allow to study the structure of a fragment of brain tissue or an autopsy performed after death. If there is a family history of dementia, it is best to consult a doctor.
Dementia Treatment and Prevention
To reduce memory loss and behavioral symptoms that gradually worsen, treatment of Alzheimer’s disease usually involves using a range of drugs, including:
- Amplifiers cognitive
- Anti-anxiety drugs
Drugs such as donepezil rivastigmine and galantamine sometimes help slow the loss of memory. No medication can stop or reverse the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms and the researchers are on the verge of developing new drugs able to delay the onset of symptoms of the disease.
Recent work has shown that stroke is a major factor in the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease; therefore, it is important to prevent it.
The prevention of stroke is the only treatment likely to be effective in cases of vascular dementia. People who have high blood pressure, who suffer from transient ischemic attacks (tia) and who have had a stroke should receive continuous treatments against these diseases in order to reduce to a minimum the possibility of their recurrence.
To treat and help people with dementia, it is important to focus on all the activities that the person can still exercise. We must encourage youth to continue their daily activities and maintain as much as possible of social relationships. It should also help to maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical exercise, proper diet and an intake of fluid sufficient. The special diets and supplements are generally unnecessary.
Here are some tips that might be helpful if you are caring for a person with dementia:
- Structure and stabilize the living environment by minimizing noise and unnecessary disruption that cause anxiety
- Establish routines to regulate the activities carried out during the day and at bedtime to try to reduce the disorientation and anxiety
- Speak slowly and calmly, do not write only one idea and only one set at a time
- Make sure that your home does not present a danger in leaving the furniture in the same place, eliminating unnecessary objects, by installing a lock on the medicine cabinet and by setting the water heater at a low temperature to prevent scalding
- Make it impossible for the person with dementia to drive a vehicle. Made by the driver or ask someone to drive it where it needs to go.
Take care of a person with dementia is a heavy burden. It is important to show understanding, patience and compassion. Be part of a support group sometimes turns out and becomes useful for people who are caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.
We must prepare for the gradual deterioration of the condition of the loved one, providing for the administration of full time care. In some cases, accommodation in a care home is the best solution for the person who are suffering and for his family.