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Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.

Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. However, memory loss by itself does not mean you have dementia. People with dementia have serious problems with two or more brain functions, such as memory and language. Although dementia is common in very elderly people, it is not part of normal aging.

Many different diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and stroke. Drugs are available to treat some of these diseases. While these drugs cannot cure dementia or repair brain damage, they may improve symptoms or slow down the disease.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Dementia

The following features are indicative of Dementia:
  • memory loss
  • difficulty communicating
  • difficulty problem-solving or reasoning
  • difficulty handling complex tasks
  • difficulty with motor functions and coordination
  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • personality changes
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • inappropriate behavior
  • paranoia
  • agitation
  • hallucinations

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Common Causes of Dementia

The following are the most common causes of Dementia:
  • hypothyroidism
  • vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Lyme disease
  • neurosyphilis
  • infections
  • immune system disorders
  • metabolic problems
  • endocrine abnormalities

Other Causes of Dementia

The following are the less common causes of Dementia:
  • Huntington's disease
  • traumatic brain injury
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • subdural hematomas
  • poisoning
  • brain tumors
  • anoxia
  • normal-pressure hydrocephalus

Risk Factors for Dementia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Dementia:
  • after age 65
  • family history
  • Down syndrome
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • heavy alcohol use
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • sleep apnea

Prevention of Dementia

No, it is not possible to prevent Dementia. Prevention may not be possible for the following reasons:

Occurrence of Dementia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Dementia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Dementia most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

Dementia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Dementia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Dementia:
  • Cognitive and neuropsychological tests: To measure thinking skills
  • Neurological evaluation: To measure memory, attention, visual perception, language, problem-solving and other areas
  • CT scan or MRI: To check tumor or stroke or bleeding
  • PET scan: To check the patterns of brain activity
  • Blood test: To detect problems that can affect the functioning of the brain

Doctor for Diagnosis of Dementia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Dementia:
  • Neurologist
  • Psychiatrist

Complications of Dementia if untreated

Yes, Dementia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Dementia is left untreated:
  • inadequate nutrition
  • pneumonia
  • inability to perform self-care tasks
  • can be fatal

Procedures for Treatment of Dementia

The following procedures are used to treat Dementia:
  • Occupational therapy: Treats the dementia symptoms and behavior problems

Self-care for Dementia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Dementia:
  • Intake omega-3 fatty acids: Helps in reducing the risk of dementia

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Dementia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Dementia:
  • Music therapy: Listening to soothing music, relaxes the patient
  • Pet therapy: Spending time with animals improves the moods and behaviors in dementia patients
  • Aroma and Massage therapy: Relaxes the patient

Patient Support for Treatment of Dementia

The following actions may help Dementia patients:
  • Modify environment: Reducing noises makes the patient function more properly
  • Create daily routines and keep tasks simple: Breaking the daily tasks into simple steps and focussing on successes not failures
  • Speak clearly and simply: Maintaining eye contact and speaking slowly, in simple sentences makes the patient to stay calm and understand things
  • Encourage exercise: Helps patient improve physical function, behavior and depression symptoms

Time for Treatment of Dementia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Dementia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Dementia.

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