Dementia: The Facts

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Dementia: The Facts

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Memory loss is a primary example. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. The symptoms of dementia may improve with treatment. But many of the diseases that cause dementia aren’t curable.

What Causes Dementia?

  • Degenerative neurological diseases. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and some types of multiple sclerosis. These diseases get worse over time.
  • Traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents, falls, concussions and the like.
  • Certain types of hydrocephalus which is a buildup of fluid in the brain.
  • Vascular disorders. These are disorders that affect the blood circulation in your brain.
  • Infections of the central nervous system. These include meningitis, HIV, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, some memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or acknowledged:

  • Depression
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Excess use of alcohol
  • Thyroid Problems

Types of Dementia:

Dementia can be split into two groups based on which part of the brain affected by it.

  • Subcortical Dementias. This is know to happen because of the problems in the parts of the brain. People who have this tend to show changes in their speed of thinking and ability to start activities. People who have this usually don’t have forgetfulness and language problems. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and HIV can cause this type of dementia.
  • Cortical Dementias. This is known to happen because of problems in the cerebral cortex which is the outer layer of the brain. They play a critical role in memory and language. People with this type of dementia usually have severe memory loss and can’t remember words or even understand language. Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob are an example.  

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Visual Perception
  • Communication and language
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Ability to focus and pay attention

What Are the Stages of Dementia?

Usually, dementia goes through these stages. But it may vary depending on the area of the brain that is affected.

1) No impairment: Someone at this stage will show no symptoms, but tests may reveal a problem.
2) Very mild decline: You may notice slight changes in behavior, but your loved one will still be independent.
3) Mild decline: You’ll notice more changes in his thinking and reasoning. He may have trouble making plans, and he may repeat himself a lot. He may also have a hard time remembering recent events.
4) Moderate decline: He’ll have more problems with making plans and remembering recent events. He may have a hard time with traveling and handling money.
5) Moderately severe decline: He may not remember his phone number or his grandchildren’s names.He may be confused about the time of day or day of the week. At this point, he will need assistance with some basic day-to-day functions, such as picking out clothes to wear.
6) Severe decline: He’ll begin to forget the name of his spouse. He’ll need help going to the restroom and eating. You may also see changes in his personality and emotions.
7) Very severe decline: He can no longer speak this thoughts. He can’t walk and will spend most of his time in bed.

Is There a Treatment For Dementia?

There is at present no known cure for dementia. But there are medicines and other treatments that can help with dementia symptoms. Some people with dementia and their caregivers use complementary remedies, such as gingko biloba, curcumin or coconut oil. However, there is not enough evidence to say whether such remedies are effective. Medicines for dementia symptoms are important, but are only one part of the care for a person with dementia. Other treatments, activities and support – for the caregiver, too – are just as important in helping people to live well with dementia.

© 2019 Realtime Senior Living Update App