What is Dementia?
Dementia is a word that refers to a set of symptoms that impact your memory, reasoning, and social abilities to the point where they interfere with your regular activities. Dementia isn’t caused by a single disease, but it can be caused by a number of them.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, but it can be caused by a variety of factors. Memory loss isn’t always a marker of dementia; however, it is generally one of the first symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent cause of progressive dementia in older people, but dementia can also be caused by a variety of other conditions. Some dementia symptoms may be reversible, depending on the reason.
Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia is a broad word. Therefore, the symptoms can differ greatly from one person to the next. Dementia patients have issues with:
- Problem solving, reasoning, and judgment
- Beyond the standard age-related changes in eyesight, visual perception
Dementia can be detected by looking for the following signs
- Getting disoriented in a familiar area
- Referring to common objects with strange terminology
- Forgetting a close family member’s or friend’s name
- Forgetting about the past
- Being unable to perform activities on their own
The most powerful known risk factor for dementia is growing older, with most instances affecting those aged 65 and up.
Those who have dementia-affected parents or siblings are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
African Americans are twice as likely as whites to get dementia as they get older. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely than whites to get dementia.
Health problems with the heart
If not addressed properly, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking all raise the risk of dementia.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Head traumas, especially if they are serious or occur frequently, can raise the risk of dementia.
How to diagnose Dementia
To discover if there is cause for concern, a healthcare provider can administer tests on attention, memory, problem solving, and other cognitive capacities. A physical exam, blood tests, and brain scans such as a CT or MRI can all be used to figure out what’s causing the problem.
What are the most frequent Dementia types?
The most frequent cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases, is Alzheimer’s disease. It is brought on by changes in the brain. Trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that took place minutes or hours ago, is the hallmark symptom, while trouble remembering more distant memories develops later in the disease. Other issues such as difficulties walking or talking, as well as personality changes, arise later. The most significant risk factor is family history. Having a first-degree family who has Alzheimer’s disease raises your chances of getting it by 10% to 30%.
Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that affects the blood vessels Strokes or other problems with blood flow to the brain are associated to about 10% of dementia cases. High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are all risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on whatever part of the brain is affected and how large it is. The disease proceeds in stages, which means that as the person has additional strokes or mini-strokes, their symptoms will abruptly worsen.
Lewy body dementia
In addition to the more common symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, patients with this type of dementia may experience stiffness or trembling in their movements or balance. Changes in alertness, such as daytime tiredness, bewilderment, or staring spells, affect many people. They may also have difficulty sleeping or may have visual hallucinations (seeing people, objects or shapes that are not actually there).
Because of the area of the brain it affects, this type of dementia frequently causes personality and behavior abnormalities. People with this problem may cause embarrassment or inappropriate behavior. A previously cautious person, for example, may make inappropriate remarks and disregard obligations at home or at work. Language abilities, such as speaking and understanding, may also be an issue.
Dementia with a mix of symptoms
Multiple types of dementia can exist in the brain at the same time, especially in those over the age of 80. A person may have Alzheimer’s disease with vascular dementia, for example. Because signs of one kind of dementia may be more pronounced or overlap with those of another type, it is not always obvious that a person has mixed dementia. When compared to one type of dementia, disease development may be faster.
Dementia may have a reversible underlying cause, such as a drug adverse effect, elevated brain pressure, vitamin insufficiency, or thyroid hormone imbalance.
What is the treatment for Dementia?
Dementia treatment is determined by the underlying cause. There is no cure for neurodegenerative dementias like Alzheimer’s, but there are drugs that can help preserve the brain or control symptoms like anxiety and behavioral problems. More therapeutic alternatives are being developed as a result of continuing research.
Prevention of Dementia
Although there is no surefire method to avoid dementia, there are actions you may take to help. More research is needed, but the following steps may be useful:
- Maintain mental activity. Memory training and mentally stimulating hobbies like reading, solving puzzles, and playing word games may help to prevent the onset of dementia and reduce its symptoms.
- Engage in physical and social activities. Physical activity and social interaction may help to prevent dementia’s onset and alleviate its symptoms. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week.
- Stop smoking. According to several research, smoking in your forties and fifties increases your chances of dementia and blood vessel disease. Quitting smoking may lower your risk and enhance your overall health.
- Make sure you’re getting adequate vitamins. According to several studies, people with low vitamin D levels in their blood are more prone to acquire Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Vitamin D can be obtained via a variety of foods, supplements, and sun exposure.
- Take care of your cardiovascular risk factors. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes should all be treated. If you’re overweight, you should lose weight.
- High blood pressure may increase the risk of certain kinds of dementia. To see if treating high blood pressure can lessen the incidence of dementia, more research is needed.
- Treat your health problems. If you’re suffering from sadness or anxiety, see your doctor.
- Maintain a nutritious diet. A Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and nuts, may help you stay healthy and reduce your risk of dementia. This diet also improves cardiovascular health, which may reduce the risk of dementia.
- Get a good night’s sleep. If you snore loudly or have periods where you stop breathing or gasp during sleep, see your doctor.
- Treat any issues with your hearing. People with hearing loss are more likely to have cognitive deterioration. Hearing loss that is treated early, such as with hearing aids, may reduce the risk.