Dementia is a catch-all term for memory loss and other cognitive impairments. Dementia is not a single disease; it’s an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, similar to heart disease. Abnormal brain alterations create the disorders included under the umbrella term “dementia.” These alterations cause a deterioration in thinking abilities, also known as cognitive capacities, that is severe enough to interfere with daily life and independence. They also have an impact on one’s conduct, emotions, and relationships.
Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 60-80% of instances. The second most prevalent type of dementia is vascular dementia, which is caused by microscopic bleeding and blood artery obstruction in the brain. Mixed dementia affects people who are affected by different types of dementia at the same time. Many additional conditions, including some that are treatable, such as thyroid disorders and vitamin shortages, can trigger dementia symptoms.
Dementia is frequently referred to mistakenly as “senility” or “senile dementia,” reflecting the erroneous idea that substantial mental deterioration is a normal aspect of aging.
Dementia manifests itself in a variety of ways. Here are several examples:
-Difficulties with short-term memory
-Knowing where your purse or money is at all times
-It’s time to pay the bills.
-Meal planning and preparation
-Keeping track of appointments.
-Leaving your area.
Many conditions are progressive, which means that the symptoms of dementia appear gradually and worsen over time. Don’t dismiss memory problems or other changes in thinking skills if you or someone you know is experiencing them. To establish the cause, see a doctor as soon as possible. A professional examination may reveal a disorder that can be treated. Even though signs suggest dementia, early detection allows a person to get the most out of existing therapies and permits them to participate in clinical trials or studies. It also gives you time to think about the future.
Damage to brain cells causes dementia. The ability of brain cells to communicate with one another is harmed as a result of this damage. When brain cells can’t interact properly, it might impact one’s thinking, behavior, and feelings.
The brain is divided into several areas, each of which performs a separate function (for example, memory, judgment, and movement). When cells in a certain region are injured, that region is unable to carry out its normal duties.
Different types of dementia are linked to specific types of brain cell destruction in specific brain locations. High quantities of specific proteins within and outside brain cells, for example, make it difficult for brain cells to stay healthy and communicate with one another in Alzheimer’s disease. The hippocampus is the brain’s learning and memory center, and its brain cells are generally the first to be damaged. As a result, memory loss is frequently one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
While the majority of the abnormalities in the brain that produce dementia are irreversible and worsen with time, thinking and memory impairments caused by the following conditions may improve when treated or addressed:
-Adverse effects of medications.
-Excessive alcohol consumption.
-Problems with the thyroid gland.
-Deficiencies in vitamins.
There is no single test that can be used to identify whether or not someone has dementia. Doctors identify Alzheimer’s disease and other varieties of dementia based on a thorough medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and the distinctive changes in thinking, daily function, and behavior associated with each type. Doctors have a high degree of certainty in determining whether or not a person has dementia. However, because the symptoms and brain alterations of different dementias often overlap, it’s more difficult to pinpoint the exact type of dementia. A doctor may diagnose “dementia” without specifying a kind in some situations. If this occurs, a professional such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or geriatrician may be required.
Treatment and care for dementia:
Dementia treatment is determined on the etiology. Although there is no cure for most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, one treatment — aducanumab (AduhelmTM) — is the first to show that removing amyloid, one of Alzheimer’s disease’s hallmarks, from the brain can reduce cognitive and functional decline in people with early Alzheimer’s. Others can help people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers enhance their quality of life by temporarily slowing the progression of dementia symptoms. The same medications that are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease are also used to treat the symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapy can also help with some dementia symptoms.
Increased research funding and participation in clinical studies will, in the end, lead to more effective new dementia treatments. Volunteers are desperately needed for clinical investigations and trials on Alzheimer’s and other dementias right now.
Alzheimer’s dementia risk and prevention:
There are things we can do to lower the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, according to new research.
Some dementia risk factors, such as age and genetics, are unchangeable. However, experts are still looking into the effects of additional risk factors on brain health and dementia prevention.
Multiple healthy lifestyle choices, such as a good diet, not smoking, regular exercise, and cognitive stimulation, may reduce the incidence of cognitive decline and dementia, according to research presented at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.