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Dementia: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dementia

Dementia is a condition which results from disorders in the brain. It is characterised by various symptoms, of which loss of memory is predominant. Dementia is not a disease in itself; in fact it is usually a manifestation of an underlying brain disorder.

Dementia: Incidence, age and sex

Dementia may be encountered in any individuals of any age. However, it is more frequent in older adults who have increased likelihood of developing brain problems.

Signs and symptoms of dementia: Diagnosis

The predominant symptom in dementia is the loss of memory which may or may not be accompanied by other features. Speech and language problems may be seen in some individuals who may use inappropriate vocabulary. Disorientation of time and place may also be encountered when underlying disease progresses. The affected individuals may sometimes experience difficulty in performing familiar chores. Other features like personality changes or mood disorders or learning disabilities may be manifested in later stages.

Such symptoms warrant an immediate consultation with a neurologist who would evaluate the mental status of the individual. Certain tests like CT or MRI scans may be done to detect the underlying cause of dementia.

Causes and prevention of dementia

Dementia is usually a result of damage to the brain cells, especially the frontal lobe of brain which is responsible for memory. Diseases like stroke which is seen in older individuals may cause short term dementia which may resolve after timely treatment. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia. Other factors like head injury, brain tumour or family history of dementia may also lead to dementia.

Dementia: Complications

Dementia is a very distressing and mentally incapacitating problem. It may have serious emotional and social consequences. Lack of self care and other practical problems may also be seen.

Dementia: Treatment

The management of dementia requires detection of cause of dementia. The treatment of stroke may require medications like anti-hypertensives for controlling high blood pressure. Lipid lowering drugs are recommended in individuals with abnormal values of lipids in blood tests. Lifestyle modifications like weight management, good dietary habits, smoking cessation and regular physical exercise are helpful in delaying the progression of the disease. Brain tumour may need surgical resection or radiotherapy. Other causes also need to be evaluated and appropriately treated. Furthermore, supportive care is essential in affected individuals.