Dementia is a term that is used to describe a category of symptoms that affects thinking, memory, and social skills that are severe enough to interfere with your daily life. Dementia is not a specific disease but there are several diseases that can lead to dementia. Dementia typically involves memory loss but memory loss can also be caused by various reasons. Having memory loss alone does not mean that the patient has dementia, but it is often one of the early symptoms of dementia. Continue reading to find out more about this illness.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia symptoms differ based on the cause but these are the most common sign and symptoms:
- Memory loss is often noticed by other people.
- Difficulty in finding words to structure a sentence or communicate.
- Difficulty with spatial or visual abilities such as getting lost when commuting.
- Difficulty in problem-solving or reasoning.
- Difficulty with organizing or planning.
- Difficulty with motor functions or coordination.
- Disorientation and confusion.
- Personality changes
- Inappropriate behavior
Causes of Dementia
Dementia is a result of a loss or damage in nerve cells and how they are connected in the brain. Depending on the area of the brain that has been damaged, dementia can implicate patients differently and in turn, cause different symptoms to emerge. Dementias are often categorized by what they have in common, such as the deposits of protein in a part of the brain that is affected. Some diseases may appear like dementias such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or medications and they can be improved through medication.
Types of progressive dementias that are irreversible:
- Alzheimer’s Disease – This is the most common cause of dementia. Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease often have tangles and plaques in their brains.
- Vascular Dementia – This type of dementia is caused by damage to the vessels which supply blood to our brain. Problems with blood vessels can cause strokes and affect the brain in other ways.
- Lewy Body Dementia – Lewy bodies are irregular clusters of protein that are balloon-like. They are found in people suffering from Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Frontotemporal Dementia – This is a group of diseases that are grouped by the breakdown of nerve cells and how they are connected in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These are the segments that are often linked to behavior, personality, and language.
- Mixed Dementia – Autopsy studies done on patients above the age of 80 who had dementia show that many had a combination of several causes such as vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Lewy body dementia.
Dementia Risk Factors That We Can Control
- Excessive alcohol use
- Diet and exercise
- Cardiovascular risk factors
- Head trauma
- Air pollution
- Sleep disturbances
- Medications that affect memory
- Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
When to Seek Professional Help
It is highly recommended to seek early treatment as soon as you notice your older loved one experiencing memory problems or other symptoms related to dementia. Some medical conditions that cause dementia symptoms can be treated so it is important to learn about the main cause at an early stage.