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Senile dementia: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About senile dementia

It is a common physiological disorder commonly seen in elderly individuals. Senile dementia refers to a group of several diseases in which there is loss of intellectual ability and is associated with old age. Two major types of senile dementia are identified: those that are due to generalized atrophy (Alzheimer type) and those that are caused due to blood vessel problems (mainly stroke).

The brain functions deteriorate as one ages, resulting in eventual loss of memory, adverse personality change, and the loss of mental abilities.

Senile dementia: Incidence, age and sex

Senile dementia is a disease of the advanced years. There is no noticeable difference in incidence between the genders, but very old women pose a little higher risk for senile dementia. Dementia is more commonly reported from certain developing regions in Asia.

Signs and symptoms of senile dementia: Diagnosis

Senile dementia is a disorder caused by degeneration of the brain cells. Therefore, there is progressive loss of memory and mental abilities, and noticeable changes in personality and behaviour. There is progressive wasting of brain cells or loss of brain function with a slow onset, over years. Short-term memory is affected first, meaning patient is not able to remember occasionally what happened hours or minutes ago and has difficulty following conversations.

Impairment of memory makes the patient lose interest in activities which once were enjoyable to him/her. There may be increasing emotional and physical instability. Detailed history may lead to the diagnosis of the condition.

Causes and prevention of senile dementia

The cause of senile dementia is not yet clear, but there is one school of thought that genes play a role. Patients with Alzheimer's disease take time to deteriorate, so the disease is often not detected in its early stages. The other type of senile dementia which is due to stroke results from damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, depriving the brain of blood supply, thus affecting its function. The ability of patient to think and remember may decline in ladder-like pattern.

Other causes of senile dementia may include depression, poor nutrition, thyroid dysfunction, drug poisoning, and chronic alcoholism. Dementia due to these reasons can often be corrected by treating the underlying diseases.

Senile dementia: Complications

Complications of senile dementia are related to the impact by falls, mental confusion, decreased nutritional status and lack of stimulation.

Senile dementia: Treatment

There are no specific treatment modalities for reversing the symptoms of dementia, but patients can benefit from cognitive therapy. Certain medications like cholinesterase inhibitors, anti-convulsants, sedatives, and anti-depressants may also help in symptomatic relief.