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Dementia

The brain is the most important organ in the body. The brain not only controls movement, speech, and sensitivity, it is also responsible for thought, intellect, moods, and memory. When the brain begins to deteriorate it can affect the function of various parts of the body, ultimately affecting the patient’s daily, social and work life, as well as the people around them. Dementia describes a decline in mental activity that is severe enough to affect a patient’s daily life.

Causes
There are causes that are completely treatable and those that are not. A doctor will decide what the cause of dementia is and how to proceed in terms of treatment.

Treatable
  • Hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiencies, neurosyphilis or autoimmune disorders.
  • Hydrocephalus, brain tumor or bleeding in the brain.
  • Depression may cause symptoms similar to dementia, referred to as “pseudodementia.”
  • Certain medications that the patient uses regularly.
If any of the above is determined to be the cause of dementia, they will be treated specifically. If treatable causes are not found, untreatable conditions will have to be considered.

Untreatable
  • The most frequently found cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Vascular dementia is another cause, but is not found as frequently.
 
Alzheimer’s VS Age-Related Dementia
It is very difficult to clearly differentiate between age-related memory loss (which is natural as patients get older) and early-stage Alzheimer’s in elderly patients so a neurologist will be brought in to make the correct diagnosis.
 
  • Repeatedly saying the same things or asking the same questions in a short period of time.
  • Forgetting situations that have just occurred.
  • Frequently unable to find objects.
  • Frequently forgetting appointments.
  • Being confused about directions and getting lost in familiar places.
  • Having difficulty speaking or frequently using incorrect words.
  • Changes in personality and moods.
  • Unable to perform previously mastered skills, such as using a television remote or cooking.
Symptoms will increase and become more frequent over time.
 
  1. A thorough medical history.
  2. Examination of the nervous system.
  3. Blood test.
  4. Neuropsychology test.
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
These tests are usually quite accurate in determining the cause of a patient’s dementia, whether there is a medical reason or if it is simply related to age or even depression.
 
Treatment
  1. Treat the cause. If the patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, though it is not treatable, there are palliative treatments available, including medication. The most important thing is increasing the quality of life for both the patient and their family. Caregivers should speak to the patient’s doctors so they can appropriately and confidently provide the best care to the patient.
  2. Cognitive training or using tools to stimulate the brain.
 
Prevention
  1. Get adequate rest.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Eat nutritious food.
  4. Drink plenty of water.
  5. Stay connected with friends and family.

Related Treatments

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