Dementia: Let’s Know About It!

May 17, 2023 by No Comments

Dementia refers to an illness that affects cognitive skills such as thinking, memory, reasoning, personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia has several types, among them Alzheimer’s is the most common.

As we all know, this disease causes a progressive loss of cognitive functions, such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning. To the point when it severely interferes with a person’s everyday life and activities. Likewise, it not only has an effect on cognitive capacities, but it may also cause emotional instability and personality changes.

Likewise, this disease severity varies, ranging from early stages in which functional abilities are just beginning to be damaged to severe stages in which persons become completely reliant on others for even the most basic tasks of daily life, such as feeding oneself.

Furthermore, dementia is more prevalent in older people, especially those aged 85 and over. It is critical to remember that it is not a natural part of the aging process. This disease affects millions of people worldwide, although many people live into their 90s and beyond without showing any indications of cognitive deterioration.

Talking about its treatment, there are presently very few effective therapies. However certain drugs can help delay the onset of symptoms and improve the quality of life in certain people. Likewise, non-pharmacological treatments, including such as cognitive stimulation, lifestyle changes, and caregiver support, also play an important role in controlling the illness and improving overall well-being.

Overall, given the substantial impact dementia has on individuals and their families. It is critical to raise awareness, promote early identification, and provide proper support systems in tackling this complicated disorder.

Most Common Types of Dementia

This disease can be classified into three types:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent kind of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of cases. It is defined by particular changes in the brain that cause trouble recalling current experiences. But later in the illness course, the capacity to recall more distant memories is compromised. Other symptoms include difficulty walking, and speaking, and personality changes.

  • Vascular dementia: It accounts for around 10% of dementia cases, and is frequently connected with strokes or other disorders related to inadequate blood supply to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for vascular dementia.

  • Lewy body dementia: This type has symptoms other than memory loss, such as stiffness or tremor, and may cause mobility or balance issues. Usually, people suffering from this kind of dementia frequently report changes in attentiveness, such as daytime lethargy, bewilderment, or staring spells. Additionally, sleep problems and visual hallucinations are also prevalent.

  • Frontotemporal dementia: This type primarily affects the brain region responsible for personality and conduct, resulting in noticeable alterations in these areas. People with this form of dementia may display embarrassing or inappropriate conduct that is out of character for them.

  • Mixed dementia: This type occurs when different kinds of dementia coexist in the brain, most commonly in those over the age of 80. A person, for example, may have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

  • Reversible causes: The term reversible dementia causes refers to underlying problems that can be addressed and potentially reversed. Medication side effects, elevated brain pressure, nutritional shortages, or thyroid hormone abnormalities are all possible reasons. Medical personnel should aggressively examine individuals with dementia symptoms for these reversible causes.

Signs and Symptoms

Dementia signs and symptoms arise when formerly healthy neurons in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and finally die. While some neuronal loss is typical with age, persons with dementia show a more dramatic drop in neural function. The particular signs and symptoms of dementia might vary based on the kind and may include the following:

Its early symptoms include:

  • Losing track of current events or knowledge.
  • Repeating remarks or inquiries in a short amount of time.
  • Misplacing frequently used goods or putting them in strange places.
  • Not knowing what season, year, or month it is.
  • Having difficulties finding the proper words.
  • Observing a shift in attitude, conduct, or interests.
Dementia mostly prevails on older people
Dementia mostly prevails in older people (iStock)

Similarly, when this disease gets worse, the signs are:

  • Memory and decision-making abilities continue to deteriorate.
  • It gets increasingly difficult to communicate and find the correct words.
  • Brushing your teeth, making a cup of coffee, using a TV remote, cooking, and paying expenses all become more difficult.
  • Reduced reasonable thinking and conduct, as well as the capacity to solve problems.
  • Sleeping patterns changes.
  • Anxiety, frustration, bewilderment, agitation, suspiciousness, melancholy, and/or despair increase or worsen
  • Needing additional assistance with everyday chores such as grooming, toileting, bathing, and eating.
  • Having hallucinations.

The symptoms presented are general dementia presentations. However, it is critical to recognize that each individual diagnosed with this disease may have a distinct collection of symptoms. That is determined by the exact parts of their brain that have been affected or destroyed. There may be additional or different symptoms linked with various forms of dementia. In addition to the usual symptoms described. The diversity of symptoms highlights the personalized nature of this disease and the necessity for specialized care and treatment options adapted to each individual’s distinct situation.

Its Treatment

The treatment strategy for this illness involves addressing and treating the underlying cause of the disorder. Approximately 20% of dementia cases have reversible causes that can be treated. When the cause of dementia is not reversible, the focus switches to controlling symptoms, notably agitation and emotional issues.

Dementia Treatment
Dementia Treatment (Homage)

The FDA has authorized two drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia aducanumab-avwa (Aduhelm) and lecanemab-irmb (Leqembi). Aduhelm is given monthly, while Leqembi is given every two weeks, via infusion treatment. They are part of a family of drugs called monoclonal antibodies, which are intended to diminish the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques are linked to the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Other medicines, such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (e.g., donepezil and galantamine), can be taken in addition to these particular therapies to potentially reduce the course of cognitive abnormalities. However, it is critical for healthcare specialists to examine each individual case and design a complete treatment plan based on the person with dementia’s particular requirements and circumstances.

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