Dementia is a collective name for a variety of symptoms that significantly impair one’s memory, reasoning, and social abilities.
Although it is not a single illness, it can be caused by a variety of conditions; like heart disease, it is an umbrella word that refers to a variety of distinct medical diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. They are due to aberrant brain alternations. These changes result in a deterioration of thinking abilities, sometimes referred to as cognitive capacities, severe enough to limit everyday living and independence. They also affect one’s conduct, emotions, and relationships. Some Facts are given below;
- Around 10% of adults aged 65 to 74 years and a quarter of those over the age of 85 suffer from some kind of dementia. The number keeps on rising, this rise is related to an increase in the normal life expectancy.
- The number of Americans aged 65 and older is predicted to nearly double by 2030, from 37 million in 2006 to 74 million, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
- Adults over the age of 65 with dementia numbered an estimated 5.0 million in 2014 and are expected to reach over 14 million by 2060.
DOES DEMENTIA COME WITH AGING?
It is very common to forget things from time to time. But age-related memory loss in and of itself does not always indicate dementia. There is a distinction between dementia and occasional forgetfulness. Learn more about how memory works and is stored in the body here.
According to CDC, it is not the part of general aging we all will go through. Many elderly persons live free of dementia for most of their life. Normal aging may result in the deterioration of muscles and bones, the hardening of arteries and veins, and certain age-related cognitive problems which can be like;
- Forgetting names of known people.
- Misplacing stuff around
- Having difficulty memorizing a term but recalling it afterward
- Forgetting important occasions
TYPES OF DEMENTIA
It is caused by the brain’s nerve cells and their connections being damaged or dying. It affects people differently and manifests itself differently depending on the section of the brain that is damaged, usually with aging. While research has established that specific abnormalities in the brain are associated with various types of dementia, the underlying reasons are frequently unclear. In a relatively tiny proportion of people, rare genetic alterations can result in this condition.
This affects the neuron-to-neuron connections, referred to as synapses, which are the means through which signals are carried along in the brain. This gap might manifest itself in a variety of ways also called neurodegenerative conditions. There are multiple types of dementia and has different symptoms:
- Alzheimer’s Disease: The most prevalent cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects between 60% and 80% of people with dementia. It is caused by unique brain abnormalities. The illness’s hallmark symptom is difficulty recalling recent events, such as a discussion from minutes or hours ago, whereas difficulty recalling more distant memories develops later in the disease. Other issues, such as difficulties walking or speaking, or personality problems, arise later. What other effects and causes Alzheimer’s can have? Read here.
- Vascular Type. It is a kind of brain alteration caused by disorders that damage the brain’s blood vessels or impair the brain’s blood and oxygen supply following stroke. The condition proceeds incrementally, which means that symptoms will abruptly worsen when the individual has further strokes or mini-strokes. It often begins with a lack of judgment or difficulty planning, organizing, and making decisions. These tend to be more noticeable than memory loss. Around 10% of dementia cases are connected to strokes or other brain blood flow disorders.
- Lewy Body Dementia. In this type, the protein deposits in nerve cells block brain chemical signaling. Aside from memory loss, people with this kind of dementia may have stiffness or tremors. Drowsiness or confusion during the day is common. They may experience sleep issues or visual hallucinations.
- Fronto-temporal Type. This category encompasses a variety of forms of dementia. They are all influenced by alterations in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Language and behavioral difficulties, as well as a loss of inhibitions, are common symptoms.
- Mixed Types. Occasionally, more than one kind of dementia occurs concurrently in the brain, particularly in those aged 80 and older. For instance, an individual may suffer from both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular type. It is not always evident when a person has mixed dementia since the symptoms of one kind may be more pronounced or may overlap with those of another type. The disease may proceed more rapidly than with one kind.
- Reversible Causes. Dementia may have a reversible underlying cause, such as a drug adverse effect, elevated cerebral pressure, vitamin insufficiency, or thyroid hormone imbalance.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
|General Definition||A brain-related disorder caused by disease and other conditions||A type of dementia but the most common type|
|Cause||Includes Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Vit D, brain tumors, and injuries.||Mostly discussed as an amyloid hypothesis.|
|Typical Onset Age||65 and older.||65 but can occur in early ages like the 30s.|
|Symptoms||A person affected has issues with memory and attention, visual perception, reasoning, judgment, and comprehension.||Difficulty in remembering newly acquired knowledge. Disorientation, behavioral and mood changes occur with disease progression.|
SIGN & SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA TO BE WATCHFUL FOR Early stages might manifest as the following symptoms:
- 1. Subtle alterations in short-term memory. One may recall events from 15 years ago as if they happened yesterday, yet you have forgotten what you ate for lunch.
- 2. Struggling to find the appropriate words. Word recall or connection may be more challenging.
- 3. Inability to adapt to change. One may have difficulty adapting to changes in the schedule or environment.
- 4. Repetition. A person affected may repeat the same inquiry, do the same work, or tell the same tale.
- 5. Mood swings. Dementia patients may experience depression, frustration, and rage.
- 6. Loss of Interest. Apathy is a possible symptom of dementia. This involves losing interest in previously appreciated hobbies or activities.
- 7. Confusion. Individuals, places, and events may have lost their familiarity. They might be unable to recall those who are familiar with them.
- 8. Difficulty Doing Everyday Tasks. A person may have difficulty recalling how to perform jobs they’ve performed for years. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks, like following a recipe from a cookbook or keeping a check on monthly bills.
- 9. Poor Judgment. Another effect of cognitive decline is the deterioration of one’s capacity to make wise decisions. For example, a person suffering from dementia may be unable to notice potentially risky circumstances. They may attempt to cross a busy street without waiting for it to be safe, or venture outside in summer attire while it is snowing.
- 10. Loss of Sense of Direction. With the development of dementia, a person’s sense of direction and spatial orientation frequently deteriorates. They may have difficulties identifying once-known landmarks and may forget how to go to previously recognized locations.
RISK FACTORS OF DEMENTIA
The World Health Organization estimates that over 55 million individuals worldwide suffer from dementia, with over 10 million new cases identified each year.
Everyone is at risk of acquiring it, but some people are at a higher risk than others.
NON- MODIFIABLE :
- Age. The biggest recognized risk factor for dementia is growing older, with the majority of cases occurring in individuals 65 years and older. The term “younger onset dementia” Or ” Early-onset dementia” refers to any type of dementia that arises in individuals under the age of 65. Dementia has been diagnosed in people in their 50s, 40s, and even in their 30s.
- Gender. A 2016 study found that women are more likely than males to get Alzheimer’s disease, whereas men are more likely to develop other dementias, such as Lewy body.
- Family History. If anyone has a family history of dementia, they are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease. Many people with a family history, on the other hand, never develop symptoms, whereas many others without a family history do. This can be explained like certain genes can be passed down (inherited) from a parent and have an effect on a person’s risk of developing dementia. These genes are classified into two categories: ‘familial’ genes and ‘risk’ genes. If familial genes are handed down from parent to kid, they will very certainly produce this condition.
- Race/Ethnicity. The study, which was published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology (August 8, 2018), reveals that black men and women are more likely to get dementia than their white counterparts.
- Stress, Sadness. Chronic stress has been linked to dementia. Given the number of prior research examined, the findings are persuasive. A study of 1,700 seniors aged 77 identified a relationship between sadness, stress, and dementia.
- Alcohol. Consumption of significant amounts of alcohol has long been recognized to alter the brain. Consumption of alcoholic beverages may be the most easily avoidable risk factor. According to a 2018 study, the majority of cases of early-onset dementia were caused by alcohol usage.
- Diabetes. Diabetes may raise the chance of developing dementia, particularly if it is poorly managed.
- Heart-Related. These include hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, fat accumulation in the arterial walls (atherosclerosis), and obesity. They all increase the risk as proven by research too. Atherosclerosis can increase your risk of vascular dementia by reducing the flow of blood that nourishes your brain.
- Brain Injuries. Head traumas, particularly if they are serious or occur often, can raise the risk of having this condition.
- Vitamin D deficiencies. Research from 2014 suggests that a lack of vitamin D may raise the risk of dementia.
There is no particular test that can confirm a diagnosis of dementia. Rather than that, a health care practitioner will provide a set of tests and examinations. These include the following:
- A complete medical history including family history
- A physical examination is performed to determine blood pressure and other vital indicators.
- Blood and other body test to determine the levels of different chemicals, hormones, and vitamins can aid in identifying or ruling out probable causes of symptoms. A complete blood count, blood glucose test, urinalysis, drug, and alcohol testing (toxicology screen), cerebrospinal fluid analysis (to rule out particular infections that might impact the brain), and thyroid and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels tests can be carried out. A doctor will only prescribe tests that are essential and/or likely to improve a diagnosis.
- Cognitive neurological testing is used to evaluate a person’s cognitive and physical abilities. These tests cover memory, problem-solving, language, and math abilities, as well as balance, sensory response, and reflexes. The gold standard test to diagnose dementia is thought to be Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
- Psychiatric evaluation. This examination will assist in determining whether depression or another mental health disorder is contributing to or causing a person’s symptoms.
- Genetic test. If a person informs a family member of having cognitive impairment, then this test is conducted.
- Brain scans. These tests can detect strokes, malignancies, and other potentially fatal conditions also providing an image of brain underlying conditions. It includes CT Scan, MRI, and PET scan.
To manage dementia, doctors will address the underlying cause. Around 20% of dementia causes are reversible. If the cause of dementia cannot be reversed, therapy will focus on symptom management, notably agitation and other emotional problems. To ease the symptoms, two basic treatments are used: pharmaceuticals and non-drug therapy.
Medication. Cholinesterase inhibitors are medications that boost the level of a molecule called acetylcholine. This molecule may aid in the formation of memories and enhance judgment.
Non-Drug Therapies. These therapies may aid in the reduction of dementia symptoms and the alleviation of some of the disease’s controllable effects. Non-drug therapies for dementia include the following:
- Making changes to the surroundings. Clutter, loudness, and overstimulation may all impair one’s ability to concentrate.
- Occupational therapy. These professional health care experts can assist individuals in being safer and more secure while performing everyday duties such as walking, cooking, and driving.
- Modify everyday routine chores. To make routine procedures such as washing and grooming more bearable, consultation with a therapist or other healthcare professional for assistance is recommended.
According to a 2017 study, lifestyle variables may account for more than one-third of dementia cases.
Keep the Mind Active
Mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzle-solving, and word games, as well as memory training, may help postpone the onset and severity of dementia.
Physical activity and social engagement have been shown to postpone the onset and alleviate the symptoms of dementia. According to studies conducted in 2021, those who exercise frequently may have a significantly lower risk of developing dementia than those who do not engage in much physical activity. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week.
Having a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet has several benefits, one of which is improved brain function. And while no one diet has been shown to lessen the risk of dementia, evidence suggests that those who consume an unhealthy diet have a higher prevalence of dementia than those who consume a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Get Vitamin D
According to a study, individuals with low vitamin D levels in their blood are more prone to acquire Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia. (In healthy persons, a level of 20-50 ng/mL is considered sufficient. Under 12 ng/mL, nanograms per milliliter, indicates vitamin D deficiency) Vitamin D may be obtained from a variety of meals, supplements, and sun exposure.
Quit Smoking & Alcohol
Quitting smoking can benefit vascular health as well as several other elements of overall general health and well-being. It also reduces the risk of having dementia as proven by research. Similarly, by abstaining from alcohol, one can avoid further loss of brain function and harm. Have difficulty in quitting alcohol and smoking? Get some help from our articles on how to stop drinking & the timeline of quitting smoking.
Having Someone With Dementia? How To Cope-Up?
Dementia may have a profound influence on the one who is affected. They may dread losing their memory and mental abilities, but they also fear losing their identity. They may also discover they have no idea what is occurring or why they feel out of control of what is happening around them or to them. All of this has the potential to influence their behavior. They also may deny that they have dementia or that they are having problems. Others may be aware that life is getting more difficult but believe it is a natural aspect of aging rather than a symptom. To maintain a pleasant connection with someone who has dementia a caregiver advice can be;
- Learning more about the disease: You will be better equipped to deal with the multitude of issues connected with dementia if you are aware of what to expect and have some concept of how other people have dealt with comparable situations.
- Create a daily routine with small rituals. Predictability can help your patient relax. Engage the patient within the regimen without overdoing it. Existing abilities should be utilized whenever feasible to maintain self-esteem. Also, it’s tempting to do things for the patient, but allowing them to do things alone, with support if needed, helps them maintain their confidence.
- Allow unusual Behavior. Minimize your denial of odd behavior and watch out for your relative’s safety. Resist the urge to interfere and ask yourself what a specific behavior means and what “comfort” it brings.
- Don’t minus your own self-care!. It’s easier to ignore your own needs as your loved one’s dementia progresses. You won’t be able to offer the greatest attention if you don’t obtain the physical and mental assistance you require. Regularly consult your doctor and watch for indications of excessive stress. Also rake care for a loved one with dementia is one of life’s most unpleasant duties. This tension can be reduced by triggering your body’s natural relaxation reaction. Try relaxing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, as well as exercise and social interaction. Discuss your feelings with a trustworthy friend, family member, clergy person, or therapist. Talking in person may be immensely therapeutic and stress relieving.