Information on Dementia
by Emily Brown King
Information on Dementia
Dementia is a condition that is characterized by the loss of brain function due to certain diseases. A common cause is Alzheimer's disease, but it is just one of several causes. Dementia primarily occurs in the elderly, but may happen to younger people on rare occasions. The symptoms of dementia like forgetfulness and confusion are often thought to be natural side effects of aging, which is untrue. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be developing dementia, see your doctor right away.
There are a wide variety of symptoms that are common to dementia. Since dementia refers to such a wide variety of diseases, not everyone experiences the same symptoms. However, the most common problems that are caused by dementia include loss of memory, deterioration of social skills like speaking and writing and even changes in personality. The person may have trouble recognizing familiar people or may forget the words for everyday things. You may notice a general decline in motor skills or unsettling changes in personality. People with dementia often become frustrated with their condition, making them anxious, depressed or even angry. They may begin exhibiting inappropriate behavior as their natural impulse controls diminish.
Causes of Progressive Dementia
There is not one specific cause of dementia that has been pinpointed. Degenerative dementia is progressive and not reversible. The most common causes of progressive dementia are Alzheimer's disease and strokes. Abnormal protein buildup, called Lewy bodies, can often be a cause of dementia. Vascular dementia occurs when the blood vessels in the brain are damaged.
Causes of Temporary Dementia
There are also cases of dementia that are caused by other conditions and can often be reversed. These causes include brain tumors, infections and nutritional deficiencies. Any condition that causes lack of oxygen to the brain or some other trauma may cause temporary mental confusion.
Diagnosis of dementia usually requires a series of in-depth tests that will help determine the cause of any decreased mental functioning. These tests can include blood panels, MRIs, CAT scans and other brain imaging tests. A doctor can determine possible causes and can recommend a course of treatment for the patient.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for progressive dementia and the disease will progress over time. A doctor will usually evaluate the patient's current regimen of medications to see if any are speeding the progression of dementia. A doctor may also prescribe medications to treat the symptoms of dementia. These medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants and cholinesterase inhibitors.
Long-term treatments include providing the patient with optimum care for comfort and safety. This may mean placement in live-in care facilities and involvement in community support groups.
There are no definitive ways to prevent dementia. The best ways to decrease your risk are to live a healthy life by eating a nutritional, low-fat diet and getting plenty of exercise. Keep your mind healthy by getting plenty of social interaction and new learning experiences. Vascular dementia may be avoided by controlling blood pressure and not smoking.