What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term for a group of conditions characterized by a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning. Dementia is not simply age-related forgetfulness. It is associated with other changes as well. It makes a person unable to perform their routine tasks. They find it difficult to focus, understand, concentrate and have a conversation besides other complaints. Dementia is associated with abnormal brain cell changes that may occur due to several conditions such as
What are the early signs of dementia?
The early signs of dementia may vary depending on the cause of dementia. Some of the early signs include
- A progressive decline in memory
- Inability to focus and concentrate
- Repeatedly asking the same questions
- Forgetting something they just read or heard
- Trouble staying organized
- Becoming overly anxious
- Finding it difficult to make and execute plans
- Forgetting names
- A lack of interest in the surroundings. The person avoids holding conversations or participating in activities.
- Inability to remember personal details such as phone number and home address.
- They may confuse people and relations. For example, they may confuse their wife with their mother.
- They forget names, but may recognize faces.
- They may exhibit loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Abnormal visual perceptions such as hallucinations (seeing things that are not there) and inability to detect movement or see the difference between colors.
- The person needs help for basic needs such as eating, drinking, sitting up and walking. Eventually, they may even forget how to smile or swallow their food properly.
- They often develop stiffness and joint deformities.
Can dementia be cured?
Most types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, involve irreversible changes in the brain, so they cannot be cured. Dementia due to certain reasons such as medications, vitamin deficiencies and alcohol use may be curable.
Although most types of dementia cannot be cured, they can be managed. The management of dementia involves a comprehensive approach involving the support of family and friends, psychological therapies, medications, diet and physical activity.
- Medications: Medicines for dementia include
- Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine
- Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Medications to manage anxiety such as lorazepam and oxazepam
- Antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol, olanzapine and risperidone
- Medications to manage underlying health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension
- Therapies such as cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) and occupational therapy
- Relaxing rituals such as meditation, adequate sleep and music
- A healthy diet and regular exercise
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