Forgetfulness is not always a natural consequence of old age. If there is forgetfulness and behavioral changes that halt daily work and disrupt relationships with other people, it is necessary to suspect dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Dementia has many causes other than AD:
- Dementias after cerebral hemorrhage and due to vascular occlusion
- Dementias due to accumulation of water in the brain (Hydrocephalus)
- Dementias due to vitamin deficiency (Vitamin B12 deficiency, Thiamine deficiency, etc.)
- Dementias due to tumors
- Dementias caused by infections and metabolic diseases
- Dementias due to the use of harmful substances in our body or their accumulation in various ways
- Dementias resulting from progressive neurological diseases other than AD
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a disease that involves symptoms occurring with brain failure. Dementia is manifested by problems such as forgetfulness and difficulties in communicating. People with dementia find it difficult to perform their daily activities. Dementia is not a disease caused by old age, more than 200 diseases can cause dementia. However, the risk of developing the disease increases with age.
What Kind of Disease Is Dementia?
Dementia is a disease in which forgetfulness is at the forefront. Although this disease is especially common in elderly people, it is not a disease that occurs with aging. The symptoms of dementia are manifested by the negatively affected memory, thinking abilities, and social skills. There are many types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is one of the types. Some types of dementia occur as a result of a deficiency of a substance in the body or as a side effect of any medication.
How Common Is Dementia?
World Health Organizationreported that there are around 50 million people with dementia worldwide. 60% of them live in low- or middle-income countries. In addition, there is an average of 10 million new cases of dementia each year. With the increase in the elderly population in society, the total number of patients is estimated to reach 82 million in 2030. Although dementia is seen in the elderly in general, the cause of the disease is not old age. Therefore, dementia can also be seen in young people.
What are the Causes of Dementia?
The brain consists of parts that perform different functions such as memory, movement, and judgment. Damage of the cells in these parts adversely affects the normal activity of the brain. The cause of dementia is also related to the damage of these cells. Patients with dementia experience many problems such as forgetfulness and communication disorder. Their mood, behavior, and way of thinking are affected as well. For example, in Alzheimer’s patients, the brain cells are damaged first and the disease becomes more severe after this stage.
What Are the Symptoms of Dementia?
The first symptom of dementia that comes to mind is forgetfulness. Dementia causes patients to face the problem of forgetfulness often. However, in addition to this, the presence of at least two of the following symptoms indicates dementia;
- Memory problem,
- Communication and language impairment,
- Focusing and attention problems,
- Visual perception problem,
- Problems in judgment and reasoning.
- If the patient has these symptoms, it is necessary to see a specialist physician as soon as possible. Although the symptoms indicate irreversible dementia, early diagnosis plays an important role in the treatment of the disease.
What Are the Types of Dementia?
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common subtype of dementia. Like dementia, forgetfulness is at the forefront of this disease. The patients’ brain cells are damaged and they show many symptoms, such as memory loss and communication problems.
- Vascular Dementia: It is known as the most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s. It occurs when the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain are damaged.
- Lewy Body Dementia: Lewy is known as abnormal clumps of protein in the form of a bubble in the brain. Common symptoms of the disease are frequent hallucinations and trouble in focusing and attention.
- Frontotemporal Dementia: Common symptoms of the disease are speech and movement disorders, and impaired thinking and judgment.
How Does Dementia Affect Daily Life?
Since dementia is a disease that emerges from damage to brain cells, it creates memory and communication problems in the body. People with symptoms of dementia can manage their daily activities without disruption in the early stages. However, they also experience forgetfulness from time to time. Although dementia may not be noticed by the patient, it will be noticed by the patient’s close entourage. However, at this stage, the patient should be treated with patience and care. Because at the end of a certain period, dementia patients can become uncontrollable.
What are the Symptoms of Dementia Stages?
- Early Stage: Early-stage dementia is often overlooked because the disease progresses so slowly and insidiously. In the first stage, problems such as forgetfulness, forgetting the address, not being able to follow the time, are seen.
- Middle Stage: People with moderate dementia may forget people’s names, get lost at home, or neglect their personal care.
- Late Stage: It is the most difficult stage among the dementia stages. At this stage, patients require care. They completely lose the concept of time and space and their own control.
How to Test for Early Dementia?
Early dementia testing is done by medical methods or non-medical online testing. However, the medical test method should be used for an accurate result. The Ohio State University of America has prepared a test that can reveal the first symptoms of dementia. This test has been tested in dementia patients over 50 years of age and has yielded positive results. The test consists of 5 questions in total, and each question is answered within 15 minutes. In this way, early-stage dementia can be detected in a short period.
How Is Dementia Treated?
Treatment for dementia varies according to the stage of the disease. People with advanced dementia cannot be cured, but the symptoms of the disease can be somewhat reduced. Dementia patients are treated with or without medication. Medicines temporarily treat the symptoms. In drug-free treatment, the life of patients is made easier and more systematic. For example, tasks are simplified, thereby minimizing patients’ focus problems.
Dementia Drug therapy
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: Drugs such as Rivastigmine and Galantamine help prevent memory loss to some extent and reduce the symptoms of dementia. These drugs can also be used for patients with vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
- Memantine: It is one of the active drugs used for dementia drug treatment. It helps regulate glutamate activity.
- Other drugs: Sometimes physicians may prescribe medication to reduce the side effects of dementia such as hallucinations, sleep disorders, Parkinson’s, depression.
Can Dementia Be Prevented?
Dementia is not a preventable disease. However, by making some changes in living standards, the death of patients with advanced dementia can be delayed, or the effects of the disease can be reduced in the early stages. For this, physicians recommend patients a physically active life. At the same time, taking enough vitamins and eating healthy by leaving harmful habits let patients endure this process with less pain. In addition, quality sleep plays an important role in increasing the patients’ life quality.