What is Dementia?
Dementia describes symptoms caused by a number of brain-affecting disorders. Dementia is common in senior citizens.
People with dementia experience impaired intellectual functioning that hinders normal activities and relationships, and they lose problem-solving abilities and have trouble maintaining emotional control. Senior citizens with dementia may experience personality changes and behavior problems such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations.
Memory loss is common in seniors with dementia, but it does not define dementia. A person can receive a diagnosis of dementia only if two or more areas of functionality-for example, memory and language skills-have been adversely affected while the person retains consciousness.
Symptoms of dementia can be caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
They can also arise from reactions to medications, metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, infections, poisoning, brain tumors, anoxia or hypoxia (in which the brain receives too little oxygen or none at all), and heart and lung problems. Though dementia is common in senior citizens, it is not a normal part of aging.
Which dementia treatments are available?
Medications to treat specific diseases associated with dementia (like Alzheimer’s) are available. This option cannot reverse damage to the brain, but it can improve symptoms and slow the disease’s progression.
This may improve the quality of life for senior citizens with dementia as well as easing the burden on those providing the care and delaying the move to a nursing home. In home health care for the elderly, though not a treatment, may be an effective way to provide care to the senior while giving their caretaker a daily or weekly break.
Also, senior citizens with dementia, especially during the early stages, can often benefit from practicing tasks designed to enhance cognitive functioning. An example of this is using memory aids like mnemonics, computerized recall devices, or note-taking.
What’s the prognosis?
Since many disorders can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease cause a gradual loss of mental functions, for example, but other types of dementia can be reversed or stopped with proper treatment. When senior citizens experience moderate to advanced symptoms of dementia, elder care and supervision at all hours is usually necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or others. They may need assistance with dressing, eating, bathing, or other daily activities.
What kind of research is being done?
Researchers are currently focusing on many of the aspects of dementia and hope to improve the quality of life of people with dementia. Research may eventually point to methods of prevention or ways to cure dementia.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family GuideA Caregiver’s Guide to Lewy Body DementiaParkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life: English EditionAlzheimer’s TreatmentStop Alzheimer’s Now!The Alzheimer’s Die