Dementia

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Overview

Dementia is a general term for symptoms affecting memory, communication, and thinking. It is caused by different diseases that damage the brain. Dementia increases with age, but it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia symptom is usually progressive, relatively mild at first and get worse over time. There are many types of dementia but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. The next most common is vascular dementia.

Symptom

Different types of dementia affect people differently, especially in the early stages. Common symptoms of dementia include:

Memory loss -especially problems recalling things that happened recently

Difficulty concentrating, planning or organizing problems with language and communication

Misunderstanding what is being seen, problems judging distances being confused about time or place confusion and needing help with daily tasks

Mood changes or difficulty controlling emotions personality and behavioral, changes sleep disturbances, changes in social awareness, obsessive tendencies, some types of dementia may have hallucinations or delusions

When to see a doctor

When dementia symptoms lead to increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning or changes in personality and mood or with periods of mental confusion.

When to get emergency help

If positive symptoms of hallucination or delusion in some type of dementia is out of control or leads to self harm behavior, emergency help is required.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis and type determination of dementia based on medical history taking, physical examination, laboratory tests. Cognitive – neuropsychological tests and some brain imagings might be evaluated.

Cooperation of diagnostic team include neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician is needed to rule out Dementia-like symptoms that caused by other conditions, such as alcohol-related brain damage, mild cognitive impairment, functional cognitive decline.

Treatment

Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. It is not yet possible to reverse brain cell death, so there is currently no cure for most types of dementia, but medications can slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.

Other therapies should be accompanied eg; occupational therapy, environment modification, music therapy etc.