What is Dementia?Dementia
covers a wide range of symptoms that brings about decline in memory, personality changes and impaired reasoning, severe enough to interfere with daily life. The symptoms of dementia include:
- Severe confusion
- Severe memory problems, decline in short-term and long-term memory
- Problems in speaking or understanding language
- Inability to recognize visually or sounds that had been familiar
- Changes in personality and mood
- Problems of balancing during walking
- Visual hallucinations
- Excessive sleepiness
What are the Causes of Dementia?
Dementia may occur due to reversible and irreversible conditions. Dementia caused by the following conditions can be reversed once the condition is treated:
Conditions that cause irreversible dementia are:
- Lyme disease
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Disease or injury to blood vessels to the brain
- Dementia associated with Parkinsonism
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
- Corticobasal degeneration
- HIV-associated dementia
Here are some of the interesting facts about dementia:
- Dementia is not a disease in itself, but a condition that describes a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working due to injury or lack of blood supply.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, causing upto two-thirds of dementia cases.
- Dementia is not just memory loss, but involves decline in many other aspects of brain function such as attention, reasoning, and causes confusion and disorientation, communication difficulties, delusions and hallucinations, etc.
- Dementia is a leading cause of disability in the later part of life, ahead of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer.
- An estimated 47.5 million people worldwide suffer with dementia, as of 2015. About 58% of them live in low and middle-income countries.
- Dementia is the leading cause of death in women in the UK, with more women living into their 80s facing problems with dementia.
- Many people with dementia are able to live independently, though they may have to make some lifestyle changes and adaptations with strategies effective in dealing with dementia.
- The cost of the health care for dementia is estimated at US$604 billion per year currently.
- The caregivers of patients with dementia undergo a lot of stress in terms of physical, emotional and economic pressures. They too, require support.
- Women are more likely to take up caring of a family member with dementia than men, with many of them quitting their full-fledged careers or taking up part-time instead of full-time jobs.
- The quality of life of people with dementia can be improved with early diagnosis and optimizing physical health, cognitive functions and well-being. Identifying the first signs of dementia and starting the intervention at the early onset of dementia play an important role in dealing with dementia.
- Regular physical exercise starting right from middle-age can lower the risk of some types of dementia, probably due to increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain.