Health and information – Before we know dementia treatment, it would be better if we first know what dementia is, types of dementia, and the causes of dementia. Here’s the information for you.
The definition of dementia is a set of symptoms that affect the cognitive function of the brain in remembering (memory), thinking, behaving, and speaking (language).
In fact, dementia is not a real disease, but rather a term to describe a group of symptoms that interfere with brain function.
This condition has many other names, such as major neurocognitive disorder or dementia. Although, basically not everyone who is senile (forgetful or often forgets) has dementia.
Senility itself is a decrease in one’s memory, which is generally caused by aging. However, people with dementia typically experience severe symptoms of dementia.
The severity of this condition can range from mild to severe. It is not even possible, conditions that affect brain function can change a person’s personality.
This disease that attacks the brain can also be progressive, which means that it can get worse over time. Some cases that result in dementia tend to be difficult to recover from.
The risk of developing dementia usually increases with age. However, it is important to understand that this condition is not actually a part of aging.
What are the types of dementia?
As taken from the National Institute of Aging, there are several types of dementia (senile disease), including:
A. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It is proven that about 60-80 percent of all cases of dementia suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a small proportion of cases are related to gene mutations that are passed from parent to child.
One of the genes inheriting a high risk of this disease is apolipoprotein E4 (APOE). Meanwhile, other cases can occur due to the presence of plaque (clumps of protein) in the brain.
B. Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is a disorder of brain function caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. This condition can be caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.
Though normally these blood vessels must function as blood supply to the brain. Stroke or other disorders can cause problems with these blood vessels.
C. Lewy body dementia
Lewy body dementia is a condition characterized by the appearance of protein deposits on nerve cells in the brain. As a result, the function of the brain to send chemical signals throughout the body is inhibited.
That’s why people who experience this usually experience memory loss, and their responses tend to be slow. Lewy body dementia is a fairly common type of progressive dementia.
D. Frontotemporal dementia
Frontotemporal dementia is a group of diseases characterized by the destruction of nerve cells in the frontal temporal lobe of the brain, which is the front. This part of the brain is generally responsible for regulating personality, behavior and the ability to speak (language).
E. Combination of dementia
Senile disease is a combination of two or more types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body disease.
What are some signs or symptoms of dementia?
Here are the various signs, symptoms, and characteristics shown by people with dementia (dementia):
Symptoms related to cognitive changes
- Loss of memory
- Difficulty speaking, communicating with other people, and doing daily activities.
- Experiencing disorientation or confusion over time and place.
- Difficulty thinking and digesting information.
- Often forget and wrong when placing an object.
Symptoms related to psychological changes
- Frequent sudden changes in behavior, personality, and mood.
- Loss of initiative or apathy in any case, including in activities that have been carried out before.
- Difficulty doing daily activities.
- Suffering from depression.
- Experiencing hallucinations.
- Experiencing paranoia.
- Feel restless.
As the patient ages, the symptoms of dementia in the late stages usually get worse. There may be signs and symptoms not listed above.
If you or someone closest to you has one or more of the above symptoms or other questions, please consult your doctor. The health condition of each person’s body is different. Always consult a doctor in order to get the best treatment regarding your health condition.
What causes dementia?
There are various causes of dementia. However, in general this condition is caused by damage to brain cells (neurons) that can occur in several parts of the brain.
In addition, this condition can also be initiated because there is a disturbance in other parts of the body which then affects the function of these neurons.
Neurons or brain cells will gradually weaken and lose their function, until they eventually die.
This condition ultimately affects the connections between neurons, which are known as synapses. As a result, the message that should be delivered by the brain is cut off, causing various problems.
This in turn can inhibit the brain cells from carrying out their functions in communicating with other people. In fact, it also affects the behavior and feelings of those who experience it.
Dementia can affect a person in a number of ways, depending on the area of the brain that is problematic. Here are various conditions and things that can cause dementia.
- Structural disorders of the brain, such as hydrocephalus and subdural hematoma or tumors and brain infection or Parkinson’s disease.
- Metabolic system disorders, such as hypothyroidism, deficiency of vitamin B-12, potassium, sodium, low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), and kidney and liver problems.
- Exposure to chemicals that cause poisoning, such as lead, heavy metals and pesticides.
- Anoxia, also known as hypoxia, occurs when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. Anoxia can develop due to severe asthma, heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.
- Malnutrition. For example, due to lack of fluids (dehydration), vitamins, and other minerals that the body needs.
What are the risk factors for dementia?
So far there are two factors that can increase the risk of dementia, including:
A. Irreversible dementia risk factors
- Age. You are more prone to developing this condition after you are 65 years old. However, it is possible at a young age.
- Family history. Having a family member with this disease puts a person at a greater risk of developing it.
- Down Syndrome. Many people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease in middle age.
B. Modifiable dementia risk factors
- Alcohol abuse. Frequently drinking large amounts of alcohol can put you at a higher risk of developing this condition.
- Cardiovascular disease risk factors. Risk factors for high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, fat accumulation in the artery walls (atherosclerosis), and obesity. All of these things can increase the risk of this condition.
- Depression. Although not well understood, depression in the elderly can indicate the development of dementia.
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing dementia, especially if it’s not treated properly.
- Smoke. Increase the risk of dementia and other diseases such as vascular disease.
- Sleep apnea. People who often snore and stop breathing while sleeping can experience a condition characterized by impaired cognitive function.
Dementia turns out to have complications
Dementia that gets worse over time can lead to complications, including:
- Malnutrition. This condition occurs because the sufferer forgets to eat well, or may not be able to swallow and chew.
- Pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs). Difficulty swallowing increases the risk of choking or sucking food into the lungs, which can block breathing and lead to pneumonia.
- Can’t take care of myself. Inability to perform self-care, such as bathing, dressing, brushing hair or teeth, using one’s own toilet, and taking medication properly.
- Die. End-stage dementia causes coma and death, often due to infection.
Dementia treatment, what are those?
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
Conditions that affect the cognitive function of the brain usually don’t involve just one type of examination. Your doctor may order a series of diagnostic tests for dementia, including:
1. Medical history
The doctor will ask about family history, illnesses, injuries, and surgeries that have been experienced. In addition, medications that have been consumed and chronic conditions will also be examined to determine the cause of the condition.
2. Physical examination
Hearing and vision tests, blood pressure, heart rate and various other indicators will be checked. The goal is to detect whether your health condition is classified as acute or chronic.
3. Laboratory test
Blood tests can be used to help detect physical problems affecting the work of the brain. Either because of a deficiency in vitamin B-12, or because of an underactive thyroid gland.
Sometimes, the spinal fluid is also checked for infection, inflammation, or signs of some degenerative disease.
4. Imaging test
Electroencephalography (EEG), PET scan, and MRI, are other treatment options. However, this will depend on your medical history and symptoms.
5. Neuropsychological tests
Doctors will usually ask the patient to remember certain words or names of objects. It aims to determine the severity of the condition, track changes in the body’s abilities, and assess its ability to function properly.
Overall, this exam is tasked with assessing various functions. Includes memory, language, vision, attention, problem solving, body movements, sensory system, balance, to body reflexes.
6. Psychiatric evaluation
A mental health professional will usually assess whether depression or other mental health conditions are associated with this decline in brain function.
Dementia can be treated in two ways, namely drugs and therapy:
A. By using drugs
There are several drugs used to treat dementia, including:
1. Cholinesterase inhibitor drugs
This drug works by increasing chemicals in the brain that are involved in memory and judgment. Examples of drugs used are donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne).
The side effects of this drug are indigestion, slowed heart rate, and sleep disturbances.
2. Memantine medicine
Memantime works by regulating the activity of glutamate, another chemical messenger involved in brain function, namely learning and memory processing. A side effect of this drug is a headache.
B. Dementia therapy
The way to treat and treat dementia in addition to drugs is by following therapy. This treatment aims to help patients have a better quality of life. Common therapies include:
1. Occupational therapy
This treatment helps nurses and patients when symptoms appear. The goal is to prevent accidents or falls that can affect health.
2. Environmental changes
An atmosphere away from noise and safe certainly helps people with dementia to focus more on activities. Families and caregivers will usually be asked to hide various dangerous objects, such as knives.
3. Simplify daily tasks
Dementia sufferers easily have difficulty carrying out activities that are usually easy for normal people to do. Therefore, in this therapy, patients will be taught to focus more and follow easy steps in completing an activity.
Can dementia treatment be done at home?
Nearly all cases of dementia cause someone to seek help at home because of the symptoms. Therefore, patients need help from you and your family. Some of the things you can do to treat dementia patients are:
- You must help the patient follow the treatment recommended by the doctor. In fact, set a regular follow-up care schedule to keep her body healthy.
- You need to help patients with self-care, such as preparing meals and ensuring that their diet is according to a doctor’s instructions, cleaning their bodies, and engaging them in activities that benefit brain health, such as gardening or exercising.
- Try to communicate with the patient in the right way, by using easy-to-understand word choices, not rushing things, and using gestures to indicate something.
- The most important thing is how you can keep the patient’s emotions stable. Avoid harsh words, and don’t ignore them.
What are the prevention of dementia?
There is no specific way to prevent a person from dementia. Even so, you can reduce your risk as a preventative measure for dementia in the future, including:
- Keep your mind active, such as reading, solving puzzles, or taking part in word guessing or memory sharpening games.
- Be active both physically and socially, namely by regularly exercising and interacting with the people around him, such as following the community.
- Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Take medication for any health problems you are experiencing, such as depression, hypertension, or high cholesterol.
- Fulfillment of nutrients from various healthy foods, especially from vitamin D, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C. You can get a variety of nutrients from vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, meat, and seeds.
- Maintain a healthy diet, so that your body weight remains ideal.
- Make sure you get enough rest. If you have trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.
That is the information we can convey about dementia, dementia treatment, types of dementia, and various preventions for dementia. Hopefully this article can be useful for all of you, and for those closest to you.