What is dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities. It is a group of symptoms including memory loss, personality change, and reduced mental duties that result from disease or trauma to the brain.
Generally, these changes are not part of normal aging and are firm enough to affect daily living, confidence, and relationships. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, there are also many other modes, including vascular and mixed dementia.
With dementia, there will possibly be a remarkable decline in conversation, learning, remembering, and problem-solving. For example, these changes may occur quickly or very slowly over time. The change and issue vary but are mostly defined by the type of dementia and which area of the brain is affected.
Coping up to the occurrence of dementia surely turns your thoughts, relationships, and priorities. But feeling symptoms doesn’t have to mean the end of your normal life. Some types of dementia can be slowed or even reversed if caught in time. In the first place the first step is to understand what defines normal memory loss from dementia symptoms, and how to identify the different types of dementia. Whatever your diagnosis, though, there can be plenty of things you can do to help slow symptoms and continue to enjoy a full and satisfying life.
Signs and symptoms
Especially, as we age, many of us feel slips in memory. It can be worrying and confusing to understand that something you once took for granted isn’t working as well as it used to. But learning to distinguish the signs of dementia from normal aging can help to either set your mind at rest or help you to begin taking steps to slow or reverse the condition.
Common signs and symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Impaired judgment
- Difficulties with abstract thinking
- Faulty reasoning
- Inappropriate behavior
- Loss of communication skills
- Disorientation to time and place
- Gait, motor, and balance problems
- Neglect of personal care and safety
- Hallucinations, paranoia, agitation
Someone with dementia symptoms may:
- repeatedly ask the same questions
- become lost or disoriented in familiar places
- be unable to follow directions
- be disoriented about the date or time of day
- not recognize or be confused about familiar people
- have difficulty with routine tasks such as paying the bills
- neglect personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition
Natural memory changes vs. dementia symptoms
It’s something we all have to face but the certain changes of aging can still be both humbling and surprising. But while undergoing wrinkling skin, fading hair color, and mild, short-term memory loss is common as we age, severe and rapid memory loss is definitely NOT a part of normal aging. In fact, many people are able to save their brainpower as they get older by staying mentally and physically active and making other healthy lifestyle choices.
Such as natural memory changes associated with aging may include:
Later thinking and problem-solving – So then the speed of learning slows down. Sort-term memory takes longer to work. Also, the response time increases.
Decreased attention and concentration – More distractedness. Such as all of the gaps make learning more difficult.
Slower recall – As a result of greater need for hints to jog the memory.
Identifying between normal memory loss and dementia symptoms is not an exact science but there are some clues to look for:
Know the difference between Memory changes typical aging or symptoms of dementia
|Yourself or a loved one complain about memory loss but are able to provide detailed examples of your forgetfulness|
|Person occasionally search for words|
|You have to pause to remember directions, but don’t get lost in familiar places|
|You remember recent important events and your conversations are not impaired|
|Your interpersonal social skills are at the same level as they’ve always been|
Causes of Dementia
|Symptoms of dementia:|
|May you complain of memory loss only if asked but are unable to recall specific instances|
|Maybe you experience frequent word-finding pauses and substitutions|
|You get lost in familiar places and take excessive time to return home|
|You experience a notable decline in memory for recent events and ability to converse with others|
|You’ve lost interest in social activities and may behave in socially inappropriate ways|
In a healthy brain, mass and speed may decline in adulthood, but this awesome organ continues to form essential connections during life. However, when connections are lost through inflammation, disease, or injury, neurons eventually die and dementia can develop. While the chance of actually losing one’s self can be extremely traumatic, early intervention can dramatically alter the result.
Accordingly, in the past 20 years, experts have greatly demystified the origins of dementia. Heredity may increase your risks, but specialists believe a combination of hereditary, environmental, and lifestyle factors are also at work.
Dementia can be caused by:
Medical conditions that progressively attack brain cells and connections, most commonly seen in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or Huntington’s disease.
Health conditions such as strokes disrupt oxygen flow and rob the brain of vital nutrients. For the most part, additional strokes may be prevented by reducing high blood pressure, treating heart disease, and quitting smoking.
Poor nutrition, dehydration, and certain substances, including drugs and alcohol. Treating conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, and vitamin deficiencies may reduce or eliminate symptoms of dementia.
Single trauma or repeated injuries to the brain. Such as depending on the location of the brain injury, cognitive skills, and memory may be impaired.
Infection or illness that affects the central nervous system, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and HIV. Such as, some conditions are treatable, including liver or kidney disease, depression-induced pseudodementia, and operable brain tumors.
Types of dementia
Therefore all dementias suggest cognitive decay that can impact daily living. However, it’s important to pinpoint the specific type of dementia in order to optimize treatment. More than 50 conditions involve dementia, including:
Such as this is the most common form of dementia, which according to the Alzheimer’s Association accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all diagnosed cases. The following 10 warning signs may indicate that your dementia symptoms are the result of Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Your memory loss is sufficient to disrupt your daily life. Generally, you forget things you’ve recently learned, forget important dates or events, repeatedly ask for the same information, or rely more and more on memory aides or family members.
2. You’re having difficulties with problem-solving. Also, you’re not able to follow plans, work with numbers, follow recipes, or keep track of bills.
3. Having trouble completing daily tasks such as driving to a familiar place, remembering rules to a game, or completing assignments at work.
4. Experiencing confusion over time or place. Likewise, you lose track of dates, forget where you are or how you got there.
5. Misplacing things. For instance putting things in strange places, being unable to return your steps. Also, maybe even blaming others for stealing.
6. Developing problems with spoken or written words. You have trouble following a discussion, often repeat yourself, struggle to find the right word, or call things by the right name.
7. Having difficulty understanding visual images. Likewise trouble reading, determining distances, colors, or contrast. Also, recognizing your own reflection.
8. Displaying poor analysis. Likewise, there’s a drop in your decision making, you’re giving away large sums of money, paying less attention to personal grooming.
9. Withdrawing from work or social activities. You have trouble remembering how to complete a work project or favorite hobby, difficulty following sports, withdraw from social events.
10. Exhibiting changes in mood. Hence, becoming confused, depressed, suspicious, fearful, or anxious.
To summarize early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can help to prolong the independence and is the first step towards treatment, management, and continuing to enjoy a full life.
In particular Vascular dementia results from a series of small strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply. Sudden onset of symptoms can indicate vascular dementia, and while it severely impacts memory and cognitive functioning, there are ways to reduce its severity.
This is a condition in which Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia occur simultaneously. For the most part, the combination of the two types of dementia most commonly occurs in advanced senior years, often indicated by cardiovascular disease and dementia symptoms that get worse slowly over time.
Less common forms of dementia
Pick’s Disease affects personality, orientation, and behavior. Especially it may be more common in women and occurs at an early age.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease progresses rapidly along with mental deterioration and involuntary movements.
Huntington’s Disease is an inherited, degenerative disease. The disease causes involuntary movement and usually begins during mid-life.
Parkinson’s Disease Dementia can develop in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.
Lewy Body Dementia causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, people with Lewy Body dementia experience hallucinations and can become fearful.
Early dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
Early dementia, also known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), involves problems with memory, language, or other cognitive functions. But unlike those with full-blown dementia, people with MCI are still able to function in their daily lives without relying on others.
Many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. However, others period at a relatively mild stage of decline and are able to live independently. Particularly some people with mild cognitive impairment even return to normal.
It is not yet fully understood why MCI progresses to Alzheimer’s disease in some while remaining stable in others. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater the risk of developing Alzheimer’s down the line. In short According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 15 to 20 percent of the population over the age of 65 experience some degree of mild cognitive impairment.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Frequently losing or misplacing things
- Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events
- Also, Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation
Getting an early diagnosis of dementia is critical, especially if your symptoms appear suddenly. Likewise, some medications for dementia may be more helpful if given early in the rise of the disease. Timely intervention may also help you better control symptoms and prolong your quality of life for longer.
For the most part, there is no single medical test used to diagnose dementia. Such as to make a diagnosis, your doctor will assess your memory problems, changes in thinking, behavior, and function, and conduct medical tests to rule out other conditions and drug interactions that may be causing your symptoms.
While your doctor may be able to broadly diagnose dementia, managing the specific type can sometimes be challenging. Many symptoms overlap between different types of dementia, so you may need to consult a specialist neurologist or psychologist for a full diagnosis.
Coping with a diagnosis
Being diagnosed with dementia is a life-changing experience for both you and your loved ones. Such as it can turn your world upside down and leave you grappling with a host of conflicting emotions. In addition to from shock, anger, and grief to profound sadness and isolation. While there is currently no cure for dementia, a diagnosis doesn’t mean that your life is over. However, there are treatments available for the symptoms. There are also steps you can take to help slow the progression of the disease and delay the onset of more debilitating symptoms, enabling you to prolong your independence and live a rich and full life for longer.
Preventing dementia or delaying symptoms
Recent research suggests that healthy lifestyle habits and mental stimulation may help prevent dementia altogether, delay its onset, or if you’ve already been diagnosed, slow the onset of more debilitating symptoms. In fact, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of dementia even if you have a genetic predisposition. Such as just as physical exercise keeps you physically fit. Also, exercising your mind and memory can help you stay mentally sharp, no matter your family history or how old you are. The following strategies can help.
Loss of memory
1. Regular exercise. Starting a regular exercise routine, including cardio and strength training, may significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia. Thus aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
2. Social engagement. The more socially active you are, meeting with friends and relatives.
As a result of the stronger your memory and cognition are likely to be.
3. Healthy diet. Brain-healthy eating habits, such as those promoted in the Mediterranean diet, can help reduce inflammation, protect neurons, and promote better communication between brain cells. Therefore, daily servings of fruit and vegetables and weekly servings of fish may help to lower your risk for dementia.
4. Mental stimulation. Especially by continuing to learn new things and challenge your brain. As a result of you can strengthen your cognitive skills, stay mentally sharp, and may delay or prevent dementia symptoms.
5. Quality sleep. In the meantime, getting quality sleep may help to flush out brain toxins and avoid the build-up of damaging plaques.
6. Stress management. Generally, unchecked stress takes a heavy toll on the brain, shrinking a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and worsening dementia symptoms.
7. Vascular health. Controlling your blood pressure, monitoring your cholesterol levels, and quitting smoking can have beneficial effects on both your heart and brain health.
Alternative Treatments & Therapies for Preventing & Slowing the Progression of Dementia
Herbal medicine, supplemental nutrition, or other alternative therapies can help to treat the disease’s progression and symptoms. Diet, physical activity, and mental activities may help slow the progression of the illness.
A healthy diet has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and may also help slow the progression of the disease. Specifically, eating fish and leafy green vegetables (for example spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables (for example broccoli and cauliflower) has a positive effect. A colorful diet may also be important because fruits and vegetables high in color often contain chemicals called antioxidants that help protect cells from damage. Other foods being studied for possible brain-protecting effects include turmeric, a yellow spice used to make some curries, and soy protein.
Physical Activity & Exercise
In brief Physical activity and exercise appear to protect the health of the brain and have been associated with less mental decline with age. Even calming activities like walking and gardening have been shown to have health benefits. Now studies are looking at whether physical activity and exercise can help slow the progression of dementia.
While additional research is required, studies have demonstrated that mental exercises, such as puzzles and brain-training games, may assist in slowing the progression of cognitive issues, such as memory loss and thinking skills. Popular brain exercises include Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and Lumosity (a website that offers cognitive games). Other brain exercises that might be helpful include playing board games or card games and reading books.
Herbal & Dietary Supplements
Also, the most commonly mentioned herbal medicine in the treatment of dementia symptoms is ginkgo Biloba, an extract taken from the leaves of the ginkgo tree. This extract is rich in antioxidants and is commonly used to improve a wide range of bodily functions, from circulation to mental function. In general, it seems to have few side effects. It may prevent or delay the onset of dementia, help with memory issues, and may even help slow the progression of the disease.
Other supplements used by individuals with dementia include supplemental nutrition such as:
- Vitamin E
- DHA (an omega 3 fatty acid found in fish)
In addition to, Ginkgo Biloba, vitamin E, and selegiline are rich in antioxidants. Low levels of vitamin E over an extended period of time have been linked to the development of dementia, but it is not clear how its use as a supplement can affect dementia once it has been diagnosed.
To summarize as mentioned above, eating a lot of fish has been observed to be associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides some dietary supplements and prescription medications should not be taken together, as there is potential for serious interactions.
Alike & Alternative Medicine Treatments & Therapies
Alike and Alternative Medicine (CAM) encompasses a wider range of treatments and approaches, like acupuncture and homeopathic medicine, that have previously been outside the scope of regular medicine. Likewise in recent years, more doctors are recommending these types of treatments to supplement medications or more traditional treatments.
Hence Individuals with dementia may benefit from massage therapy or acupuncture. Whereas massage therapy stimulates movement and the flow of blood and lymph in the body, acupuncture is thought to correct and improve the flow of the body’s energy, or focus, both massage therapy and acupuncture provide the opportunity for touch and the release of stress, depression, and pain that may underlie many of the behavioral and psychiatric problems that can arise in individuals with dementia.
Other therapies, such as art and music therapy or aromatherapy, may help individuals with dementia remember and experience memories more fully through the use of familiar colors, sounds, and smells. In addition, the use of particular essential oils might help persons with dementia to relax. In addition to the use of lavender oil with the reduction of aggressive behavior.
Bright light therapy has also shown some promise in helping restlessness and sleep issues often associated with dementia. Generally, in this type of therapy, the person sits near a light therapy box, which emits light that mimics natural light. Such as this type of therapy is thought to help in resetting the internal clock, helping a person with dementia to sleep better at night.
For the most part herbal supplements, the field of CAM treatments and therapies is not always strictly regulated or controlled. It is important when seeking out these treatments to inquire about a practitioner’s experience and certification.
As with any treatment you’re considering, consult with your doctor before following any medication — natural or otherwise.