We often hear the term dementia thrown around when talking about the elderly, but many people don’t actually know what it is exactly. In fact, quite a few people are surprised when they find out that dementia is not, in itself, a specific disease, but rather an umbrella term for a group of symptoms which can be associated with a number of diseases and conditions, as well as just old age. Here are some basics about the causes, treatments and symptoms of dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is characterised by a general mental decline. It is usually associated with old age, but it does not affect everybody, and is not a normal part of the aging process. Most commonly people think of memory loss when they think of dementia, but it can also be followed by a decline in cognitive and thinking skills. Sometimes, it even affects a person’s social skills. In a lot of the more severe cases, it can be so debilitating that a person is left unable to perform a lot of their normal daily activities.
What Causes Dementia?
There are many possible causes of dementia, some of which are reversible, while others are permanent. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for an overwhelming majority of cases. A whopping 60 to 80% of cases are caused by this disease. Scientists are still not entirely certain about the processes that lead to Alzheimer’s, but they include brain cell loss and a decrease in neurotransmitters. The second leading cause is stroke. Stroke-caused dementia is called vascular dementia. Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease can often include dementia symptoms. Other, reversible causes, commonly include vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems. Sometimes, a person can have two or even more types of dementia at the same time.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
Unfortunately, a lot of causes of dementia are incurable. Even when it comes to prevention, some risk factors – like smoking, alcohol and snoring can arguably be controlled, while others – like age and family history – are out of our hands. Most treatment focuses on treating the underlying condition with greater or lesser success. The most important thing you can do for someone who is living with these symptoms is to ensure that they get premium dementia care. This means ensuring that they are able to lead a comfortable and safe life with plenty of support and a consideration for their wants and needs. Talking therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive stimulation and cognitive rehabilitation can often help. Art and music have also been known to have a beneficial effect. Staying active – both physically and socially is great, and it can also help keep depression at bay.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia?
Symptoms of dementia can vary from patient to patient. Memory loss and a general deterioration of mental skills are at the core of most of these symptoms. Apart from obvious memory loss, other symptoms include an inability (or lowered ability) to complete normal daily tasks, difficulty with abstract thinking, feeling disoriented, communication problems, and personality or mood changes. Unfortunately, dementias often tend to be progressive, and symptoms usually worsen with time, the older the patient gets. Dementia most commonly occurs in patients over the age of 65, but can start before that in patients with early onset Alzheimer’s.
If you notice that you or one of your loved ones has symptoms that could be a sign of dementia, schedule an appointment with a doctor. A person with dementia needs plenty of help and support, so it’s best to address any issues as soon as possible. This could help slow down the progress of the condition and help the patient adapt.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in business and marketing related topics.
In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.