What is Dementia?

Instead of categorising Dementia as a disease, it could be considered as a bunch of symptoms that affect the memory, speaking and socializing ability of a person. This situation gradually reaches a point where even the simple daily tasks seem difficult and somewhat impossible.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia accounting for 40-60% of all the cases. After Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, the post-stroke memory loss is the most common classification of Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from that, Vitamin deficiency, thyroid gland disorder and Lewy body Dementia are common causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
 

Symptoms of Dementia

The signs of dementia are not very concrete. Still, medical researchers have identified 5 most distinct symptoms. A patient is generally considered affected with Dementia if 2 or more symptoms are present in him or her. The symptoms are:

  • Memory loss
  • Inability to focus and to pay attention
  • Difficulty in communication and language
  • Poor visual perception
  • Decreased ability of judgement and reasoning

In most of the cases, Dementia is a progressive condition. At the initial stages, the dementia symptoms are so subtle that only the close friends or family members can detect the concern.
 

Causes of Dementia

Damage of the human brain cells is the root cause of dementia. When brain cells are too damaged to connect with each other properly, human actions like talking, thinking, walking, taking decisions and thinking are affected.

Different brain sectors are allotted for different types of responses like analyzing, Judgement and movement. When a certain sector of the brain starts to under-work, then all the other actions also get hampered. In Alzheimer’s symptoms, hippocampus` is one of the first sectors of brain to be affected and shrunk. Hippocampus works for forming new memories.

Therefore memory loss is the worst result of Alzheimer’s disease :

  • Most of the Dementia causes are permanent and only worsen with time. The memory loss can be aggravated with: Side effect of certain medication
  • Depression
  • Thyroid gland problem
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Diagnosis of dementia

Till now, no definitive test is invented to find out if someone has Dementia or not. Dementia is diagnosed by multiple pathological tests, laboratory test, a thorough physical examination, medical history and progressive changes in the behaviour.
 

Dementia treatment and care

As most of the Dementias do not have a cure, the situations are treated instead. Both drug and non-drug therapies are used to treat Dementia.

However, there are a few ways that might help the Dementia condition:

Keeping the mind active

Any work that trains the brain like solving puzzle, reading or playing word games can help your brain to remain more active.
 

Being more socially active

Interacting with people around you and investing time in physical exercise are 2 best ways to overcome social anxiety and brain lethargy. Neurologists suggest at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise for an active brain.

Consume more Vitamin D

Inadequate Vitamin D is a main reason for Alzheimer’s disease and many other forms of Dementia. Apart from food and supplements, the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight.

Quit smoking

This is proven in a multitude of studies that smoking, especially at the older age, negatively impacts the blood vessels and dementia. By quitting smoking, you can keep the brain nerves and vessels healthier.
 

Lowering the blood pressure

High blood pressure is directly associated with multiple Dementia types. Therefore, treating hypertension can help the brain functioning more efficiently.

Maintaining a healthy diet

Mediterranean diet is mandatory for most of the Dementias including vascular dementia. A complete Mediterranean diet consists of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains), healthy fats (olive oil and canola oil), herbs and spices, fish and poultry.

Complications in Dementia

Dementia is a complication that can affect multiple organs and their ability to function. If not treated properly, this condition can worsen to such an extent that a patient can even die. Here are a few most common complications of Dementia:

Malnutrition

Usually triggering from difficulty in chewing and swallowing, most of the Dementia patients almost abandon eating. Therefore, severe malnutrition and lack of nutrition are quite common among the Dementia patients.

Pneumonia

For swallowing problem, the food is not properly digested. Therefore, there’s a good chance of choking of the lungs with undigested food. This situation can lead to Pneumonia.

Incapability of self-care

As the dementia stage aggravates, even simple daily tasks become incredibly hard to be performed. Daily tasks like bathing, eating, brushing, combing hair and walking require someone else’s help.

Safety hazard

As day by day regular tasks like driving, crossing the road or switching off the gadgets become difficult; at the later stages of Dementia, these things create safety issues for the patient and the family.

Death

As the body cannot function properly, at the final stage of Dementia, the patient often dies from severe infection.

Content Reviewed By: Dr. Kunal Bahrani