Dementia has been considered as a condition that applies to an elderly group, but this can happen at any age group, which is not spoken about a lot and this is the sad reality. However, we will be speaking about these issues and how can we treat people with dementia better.
What is dementia?
Dementia is considered as a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but not the only one. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging.
Symptoms of dementia
There are symptoms that people with dementia may have which includes three stages: early, middle and late stage:
· Early stage: the early stage of dementia is often overlooked, because the onset is gradual. Common symptoms include:
o Losing track of the time
o Becoming lost in familiar places.
· Middle stage: as dementia progresses to the middle stage, the signs and symptoms become clearer and more restricting. These include:
o Becoming forgetful of recent events and people's names
o Becoming lost at home
o Having increasing difficulty with communication
o Needing help with personal care
o Experiencing behaviour changes, including wandering and repeated questioning.
· Late stage: the late stage of dementia is one of near total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are serious, and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious. Symptoms include:
o Becoming unaware of the time and place
o Having difficulty recognizing relatives and friends
o Having an increasing need for assisted self-care
o Having difficulty walking
o Experiencing behaviour changes that may escalate and include aggression.
Treatment and care for dementia
There are different types of treatments that can be given to someone with dementia such as:
· Cognitive and neuropsychological tests = Doctors will evaluate your thinking (cognitive) function. A number of tests measure thinking skills, such as memory, orientation, reasoning and judgment, language skills, and attention.
· Neurological evaluation = Doctors evaluate your memory, language, visual perception, attention, problem-solving, movement, senses, balance, reflexes and other areas.
· Brain scans = CT or MRI. These scans can check for evidence of stroke or bleeding or tumour or hydrocephalus.
· PET scans = These can show patterns of brain activity and whether the amyloid protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, has been deposited in the brain.
· Laboratory tests = Simple blood tests can detect physical problems that can affect brain function, such as vitamin B-12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland. Sometimes the spinal fluid is examined for infection, inflammation or markers of some degenerative diseases.
· Psychiatric evaluation = A mental health professional can determine whether depression or another mental health condition is contributing to your symptoms.