Dementia is a decline of mental abilities such as thinking, reasoning and memory. Dementia usually occurs in older age; it is rare under the age of 60. It is serious enough to diminish everyday functions in a person’s life such as driving, everyday duties and even can effect the ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) like personal hygiene, dressing, and feeding. Many people mistake dementia as being a disease itself but it is actually a group of symptoms that occur with certain diseases or conditions.
The most common disease that causes dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which is the cause of about fifty percent of all dementia occurrences. There are many other causes of dementia, but these are very rare amongst those affected by dementia.
Most of the diseases that cause dementia are not curable, but all hope is not lost. The primary cause of dementia in an individual can be treated to reverse the symptoms and improve the condition greatly. In this case, when being evaluated by a doctor, it is important that the individual receives a thorough evaluation in order to find any underlying causes that maybe be reversible when treated.
Causes of Dementia
There are many different causes of dementia, the most common being degenerative neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and some types of multiple sclerosis. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, causing fifty percent of all dementia. Other common causes are vascular disorders - such as multiple-infarct dementia, which is caused by multiple strokes; infections - such as HIV dementia complex and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic drug use, depression, and types of hydrocephalus - an accumulation of fluid in the brain caused by developmental abnormalities, infections, injury, or brain tumors.
Types of Dementia
Dementia is split into two major categories relating to which part of the brain is affected. In some cases, both parts of the brain can be affected, which is multi-infarct dementia.
The first type is cortical dementias which develops from a disorder affecting the outer layers of the brain - the cerebral cortex - which functions as an important role in thinking abilities like memory and language. Two types of diseases linked to cortical dementia are Alzheimer's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The symptoms of cortical dementia are acute memory loss and aphasia - the incapability to remember words and understand language.
The second category is subcortical dementias which results from dysfunction in the areas of the brain that are under the cortex. The diseases associated are Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and AIDS dementia complex. Rather than experiencing the symptoms of cortical dementia such as forgetfulness and language difficulties, individuals will show difficulties in their promptness of thinking and their capability to start activities.
Treatments for Dementia
Most forms of dementia cannot be cured but can be controlled in order to try and reverse symptoms. Treatment varies depending on the condition causing the dementia but it starts by treating the underlying disorder. Some treatable methods are stopping or changing medications that lead to confusion, doing mental exercises, treating other conditions that lead to confusion, and taking specific dementia medications. An individual with dementia should be under constant medical care but family members can handle most of the day-to-day care. Medical care focuses on controlling the symptoms of dementia and maintaining the quality of their life. It also helps families cope with the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia.
A prevention method for dementia is not known for either irreversible dementia or even reversible dementia. There are small things you can do in life that may prevent certain types. Habits that maintain a healthy lifestyle such as eating a low-fat diet, avoiding smoking, moderating use of alcohol, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, and exercising regularly will all contribute to preventing dementia, particularly vascular dementia. Taking safeguards to prevent infections and using protective equipment for vehicles to prevent head injuries are others. To allow early treatment and reversal of dementia the individual will have to be alert for the symptoms and signs of dementia and recognize early any underlying medical conditions.