Dementia is not a disease in itself; it is a syndrome that affects the brain. The affected areas of the brain do not function normally. It is common in elderly people but may also affect adults, irrespective of their age. When it appears, Dementia first affects the mental functioning of the patient. Later, the patient may not be able to tell what day of the week it is, month or even year. The patient may not also be able to tell where he is or even recognize the people around him. According to experts, Dementia diseases are categorized into two:
Cortical Dementia- In this case, the outer layer of the brain (cerebral cortex) is affected. This layer is important for cognitive processes like memory and language
Sub-cortical Dementia- The part below the cerebral cortex is affected. It does not affect either memory or language. The patient instead experiences change in personality, slowed down thinking and shortened attention span.
Most types of Dementia diseases cannot be reversed. The following conditions can bring about Dementia diseases:
- Parkinson's disease
- Huntington's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
- Brain tumors
- Pick's disease
- Low vitamin B12level
- Infections that can affect the brain.
Some causes of dementia may be stopped or reversed if they are found soon enough, including:
- Chronic alcohol abuseC
- hanges in blood sugar, sodium, and calcium levels
- Use of certain medications
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Family members or those close to the patient are asked about the symptoms they have seen. Changing or Stopping current medications which will make confusion worse may improve the functioning of the brain.
Medication of the patient is reviewed. Elderly people suffer from several other diseases and some of them could be related to Dementia diseases hence the importance of reviewing.
A thorough physical examination is done to look for any evidence of dysfunction and illness which might show exactly what has caused the symptoms. Routine blood tests are carried out, complete blood cell count, blood chemistry, vitamin B levels and vitamin B-12 test. Include complete (CBC) count, blood chemistry, liver function tests, thyroid function tests, and vitamin B levels and Vitamin B-12).Urine tests and cerebrospinal fluid tests are also done.
Evaluation is then designed in order to identify whether the symptoms portray Dementia diseases that are reversible or treatable. A mental status evaluation is also carried out. This is done using pen and paper, conversations or even physical tests.
The patient may then be referred to a specialist if the condition needs further evaluation. A neurophysiology test may at this point be carried out by a psychologist.
In most cases, Dementia diseases are not curable. However, researchers have come up with various ways of slowing down the dementia progress. During the early stages, cholinesterase inhibitors are administers. Behavioral and cognitive therapies may be used. Study has shown that music therapy can greatly help the patients. Notably, the caregivers of these patients should by require emotional and training support. Some physicians have prescribed Tacrine , donepezil, rivastigmine, and glutamine for treatment of Vascular dementia and dementia that is brought about by Alzheimer's disease. The same treatments have been approved in the U.S. Selegiline has also been identified as one of the treatments that slows down dementia progress.
In Canada, researchers have seen that bilingual people who contract dementia diseases do so four years later than monolingual people who get dementia. The difference of four year continues even after doing away with variables like education, gender, immigration, employment and cultural differences.
Some symptoms of dementia include:
- Loss of memory
- Communication difficulties
Sources and Citations
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