What is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Treatment
Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not normally a part of aging. It is also not a disease. Rather, it is a general term affecting thinking, memory, language, and social abilities. It ranges from mild, where it slightly affects a person's functioning, to severe, where the person suffering must completely depend on someone to live.
Here are the most common symptoms of dementia:
- memory loss
- difficulty in communicating
- forgetting familiar tasks
- mood changes
- personality changes
- loss of initiative
Dementia comes in several types, including the following:
As mentioned, dementia isn't really a disease. However, it can be caused by an actual progressive disease called Alzheimer's. It causes the brain to degenerate and die, and as the years go, the dementia symptoms gradually worsen. The early stages usually include mild memory loss and decline in thinking skills, and in the late-stage Alzheimer's, the patient eventually fails to respond to conversations and the environment.
Vascular dementia is normally caused by a blood flow problem in the brain, where the brain doesn't get enough blood that carries the oxygen and nutrients it needs. And just like Alzheimer's disease, its symptoms are mild for a longer period of time which includes short-term memory, trouble in concentrating, inability to follow instructions, and hallucinations.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
This dementia typically begins from the age of 50 and older, although younger people can have it too. It is caused by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein inside the brain's nerve cells that interrupt the brain messages. It can occur on its own, or with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
Unlike other types of dementia, the FTD can occur to people much younger, usually from 45 to 65 years old. With this dementia, proteins build up in the frontal lobe and temporal lobes that could cause the nerve cells to die; and this affects message transmission to the brain.
Because you cannot reverse the death of the brain cells, there's really no known cure for degenerative dementia. However, there are medications that can temporarily improve symptoms.
Understanding available options can help individuals living with the disease and their loved ones (or caregivers) to cope with symptoms and improve quality of life. Monitoring information on the behavior of dementia patients could improve their health and safety. You can do this with a gadget like the CPR Guardian II which allows you to track and call the wearer in real time. Learn more about it here.