Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.
Dementia is a decline of reasoning, memory, and other mental abilities (the cognitive functions). This decline eventually impairs the ability to carry out everyday activities such as driving; household chores; and even personal care such as bathing, dressing, and feeding (often called activities of daily living, or ADLs).
Dementia is most common in elderly people; it used to be called senility and was considered a normal part of aging. We now know that dementia is not a normal part of aging but is caused by a number of underlying medical conditions that can occur in both elderly and younger persons. In some cases, dementia can be reversed with proper medical treatment. In others, it is permanent and usually gets worse over time.
Dementia affects about 1% of people aged 60-64 years and as many as 30-50% of people older than 85 years.It is the leading reason for placing elderly people in institutions such as nursing homes. Dementia is a very serious condition that results in significant financial and human costs. Many people with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their care.
Although people with dementia typically remain fully conscious, the loss of short- and long-term memory are universal. People with dementia also experience declines in any or all areas of intellectual functioning, for example, use of language and numbers; awareness of what is going on around him or her; judgment; and the ability to reason, solve problems, and think abstractly. These losses not only impair a person’s ability to function independently, but also have a negative impact on quality of life and relationships.
Many older people fear that they are developing dementia because they cannot find their glasses or remember someone’s name. These very common problems are most often due to a much less serious condition involving slowing of mental processes with age. Medical professionals call this “benign senescent forgetfulness,” or “age-related memory loss.” Although this condition is a nuisance, it does not impair a person’s ability to learn new information, solve problems, or carry out everyday activities, as dementia does.
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected.
The brain has many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for different functions (for example, memory, judgment and movement). When cells in a particular region are damaged, that region cannot carry out its functions normally.
Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain. For example, in Alzheimer’s disease, high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That’s why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:
2. Medication side effects
3. Excess use of alcohol
4. Thyroid problems
5. Vitamin deficiencies
While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
2. Communication and language
3. Ability to focus and pay attention
4. Reasoning and judgment
5. Visual perception
People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.
Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them. See a doctor soon to determine the cause. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition. And even if symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available treatments provides by us. It also provides time to plan for the future.
Alzheimer’s is diagnosed through a complete medical assessment. If you or a loved one have concerns about memory loss or other symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important to be evaluated by a physician.
People with memory loss or other possible warning signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem and may resist following up on their symptoms. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends.
There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires careful medical evaluation, including:
.1. A thorough medical history
2. Mental status testing
3. A physical and neurological exam
4. Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms
Having trouble with memory does not mean you have Alzheimer’s. Many health issues can cause problems with memory and thinking. When dementia-like symptoms are caused by treatable conditions — such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies — they may be reversed
BHN offers complete Dementia care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
1. We provide Nurses or Nursing aids based on 24/12 hrs shifts.
2. Consultants, Neurologist, Psychiatrist required for formulating treatment plan for your loved ones
3. Regular visits by our consultants at your door-step.
4. Visit from our Gerontologist who has specialized in Geriatric care.
5. Formulating and coordinating their treatment plans with Doctor’s and family members.
Although an individual with dementia should always be under medical care, family members handle much of the day-to-day care. Medical care should focus on optimizing the individual’s health and quality of life while helping family members cope with the many challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. Medical care depends on the underlying condition, but it most often consists of medications and nondrug treatments such as behavioral therapy.
Treatment of dementia focuses on correcting all reversible factors and slowing irreversible factors. This can improve function significantly, even in people who have irreversible conditions such as Alzheimer disease. Some of the important treatment strategies in dementia are described here.
Correcting drug doses and/or withdrawing misused drugs
Many seniors require ongoing medications for chronic conditions such as heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, prostate enlargement, and many others.
Reviewing these medications can reveal incorrect doses, drug interactions, side effects, or poor compliance (taking drugs inappropriately or not at all) that could be responsible for part or all of the person’s dementia symptoms.
Adjustment of doses, elimination of interactions, and development of a drug-taking regimen to ensure that the person takes his or her drugs as prescribed can help reverse symptoms.
Slowing progression of dementia
Dementia due to some conditions, such as Alzheimer disease, can sometimes be slowed in the early-to-intermediate stages with medication. Many different types of medications have been or are being tried in dementia. The medications that have worked the best so far are the cholinesterase inhibitors