The report provides an analysis of dementia, its causes and effects, and how it must be treated. The ways of preventing of the disease have also been described
What is Dementia?
The loss of cognitive functioning is known as dementia. These functions include memorizing or remembering, reasoning, thinking, and abilities related to behavior to the limit where they impact the everyday life of a person. Other cognitive abilities include language skills, memory, problem-solving, visual perception, paying attention and ability to focus, and self-management. The inability to control one’s emotions and change of personality can also be seen in individuals having dementia (nia.nih.gov). The severity of the seriousness of the disorder ranges from the mildest phase to the most serious or severe one. In the mildest phase, the cognitive functioning starts being impacted and in the severe stage, the individual becomes completely dependent on others for even basic daily life activities.
Symptoms of dementia
Major signs and symptoms of dementia include imbalance or difficulties in:
One of the early signs or indications of dementia is the difficulty in memorizing or remembering things. This change involves short-term memory. A person with dementia may know about the events or the happenings that occurred much time earlier but not what they did a while ago. In short-term memory, people often forget what they were supposed to do, where did they leave any item, why did they come to a particular place, etc. Another major symptom is difficulty in putting thoughts into words or communicating what’s going on in the mind. The level of expression decreases and it takes unusually long to conclude the conversation. Dementia also brings about changes in moods. Changes in mood are difficult to be realized in one’s self but is noticeable in others like depression is common in the early stages of dementia. A complete shift or change in personality is also observed. A shy person can become an outgoing individual and vice versa. This is due to the impact of viewing things or judging them. A person starts losing his interest in different activities he used to perform. Thus, an outgoing person may become a total introvert.
When an individual is seen having problems in carrying out daily normal activities, this can imply that he is suffering from the early stage of dementia. The problem starts with handling difficult tasks such as playing hard games etc., and they also struggle with learning new things or following new routines. Loss in memory and problems in communication leads to confusion. A person with dementia remains confused for a lot of reasons and in different situations. This confused state leads the person to have problems in following the storylines, a failing sense of direction takes over him, keeps on repeating the same behaviors, and struggles to adapt to changing conditions. Physical symptoms include weight loss or weakness in muscles. Changes in appetite and patterns of sleep may also occur.
Causes of dementia
Many diseases have been observed to cause dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia also known as Pick’s disease, Huntington’s disease, injury in the brain, Parkinson’s disease, infections, and many others. Among all of these diseases, Alzheimer’s disease is known as the most common one in causing dementia. Brain cells get surrounded by an abnormal protein causing damage to the internal structure of the brain. With passing time, the chemical link among the cells weakens and they start dying. This becomes the cause of memory loss, communication problems, perceiving or understanding of things, and the ability to make decisions. A neurodegenerative condition related to the abnormal configuration of the brain is known as dementia with Lewy bodies. It includes a protein known as alpha-synuclein. A person suffering from both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are known to have mixed dementia. The movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are also causes of dementia. When the excess amount of cerebrospinal fluid gets accumulated in the brain, it causes dementia, and this condition is known as normal pressure hydrocephalus. Down syndrome enhances the probability of occurrence of the Alzheimer’s disease which then leads to dementia.
Who gets dementia?
Dementia is mainly caused by individuals over the age of 65. “Scientists are investigating how dementia might run in the family” (alzheimers.org.uk). The disease or the disorder can also be transmitted through genetic influences.
At present, approximately 850,000 people above the age of 65 are suffering from dementia, and greater than 42,000 individuals of age less than 65 have dementia in the UK. In the United States, 60-80% of dementia has been known to be caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Universally, 47.5 million people are suffering from the disease. Every four seconds, there’s a new case of dementia (MacGill, 2017).
Diagnosis and treatment
Anyone facing issues and problems with their thinking process or memory need to get himself or herself a proper assessment. Treatable conditions like any infection or depression may be found to be the cause of problems. Thus, proper diagnosis is important for the right treatment. An expert doctor likes a psychiatrist, neurologist, or geriatrician help in the diagnosis of the problem.
All the various causes of dementia cannot be treated and cured. However, the development of different vaccines, drugs, and other medical treatments can help in enabling the patient to live his life normally. There are some non-drug treatments such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive stimulation therapy, etc. All these therapies mostly focus on the psychological condition of the individual. Counseling enables the patient to discuss their feelings about the disease or its causes, CBT is applied when a person is under depression or anxiety, and a person’s mind can be made active through cognitive stimulation therapy.
The drug treatment involves galantamine, donepezil, and rivastigmine. These drugs are useful for those suffering from dementia with Lewy body, and going through delusions, hallucinations, and challenging behaviors such as aggression or agitation. Some drugs are given for the treatment of medical conditions which are the cause of dementia such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Drugs control these conditions and ultimately dementia’s progression is slowed down.
Prevention of dementia
Observing closely at the causes and effects of dementia, we can say that an unhealthy lifestyle, in general, is the main problem. Smoking, lack of physical activity, etc. lead to different heart problems, and psychological disorders which then lead to dementia. Overthinking and stress can also be regarded as one of the causes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle leads to maintenance of weight which ultimately reduces the chances of dementia to occur. A balanced diet and physical activity reduce the occurrence of conditions such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Physical activity also helps in the efficient activity of the mind. Other ways to keep the mind active and healthy are reading, learning new skills, or doing something creative (alzheimers.org.uk). Keeping oneself relaxed and away from extreme stress prevent harmful and unhealthy effects. A person suffering from any of the causes of dementia must go to a specialist, may it be a physical or a psychological cause, diagnosis, and treatment are very important for the prevention of the disease.
Alzheimer’s Society. (2016, November 11). What is dementia? Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20007/types_of_dementia/1/what_is_dementia/8
MacGill, M. (2017, December 01). Dementia: Symptoms, treatments, and causes. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/142214.php
What Is Dementia? (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-dementia