Dementia

Dementia

Dementia is a general term which describes various symptoms such as impairments to memory, communication and thinking. It is one of a common problem among elders. HealthAbove60 offers nursing care for the elders who are suffering from Dementia. There are so many elders who needs the nursing support even for their activities of daily living. Dementia is also used to explain about various symptoms which is related to cognitive impairment such as forgetting.

Causes:

Dementias are mainly caused by brain cell death. Brain cell death may happen over a course of time which will be progressive in nature. Some of the causes are very simple to understand like how they affect the brain and lead to dementia.

Vascular Dementia: Brain cell death caused by Cerebro Vascular Accident which will affect the normal blood flow and the oxygen to the brain cells.

Injury: injury related to brain cell death may cause post-traumatic dementia.

Prison disease: This disease is mainly caused by a specific type of protein which is seen specifically in some type of dementia.

HIV infection: The physiology of damaging the brain cells by the virus is not known but it is certainly proved that this infection also causes .

Reversible factors: some of the types of dementia can be treated if we reverse the effect of the underlying causes which can be a reaction due to medications, certain associated problems like depression, deficiency diseases which can be corrected easily like vitamin deficiency and certain thyroid abnormalities.

Types Of Dementia:
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Dementia With Lewy Bodies (DLB)
  • Parkinson's Disease Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Signs and Symptoms:
  • Recent memory loss
  • Even the familiar task completion becomes complicated Problems in communication
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor judgment
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things
  • Mood changes
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of initiative
Test and Diagnosis:

The test will be for memory, performance and cognitive health.

Abbreviated mental test:

This will have some standard ten questions like the following:

For example:

  • 1. What is your name and age?
  • 2. What is the time, to the nearest hour?
  • 3. Repeat an address at the end of the test that I will give you now
  • 4. What is the present year?
  • 5. What is the name of the hospital we are in?
  • 6. Can you recognize two people (could be in the hospital or home)
  • 7. What is your date of birth?

ETC………………………….

Each correct answer carries one mark. The cognitive impairment can be judged with the help of the score for example if they score seven or more then they come under the category of normal functioning whereas if they get six or lesser then they are categorized for cognitive impairment.

The GPCOG test

There is a GPCOG test website which can also be done online and here the physician will record the answers for the questions which are asked.

Once when the test is done there will be a score after the patient completes the set of questions. If more information is required from the relatives then we can go ahead with the second part of the test.

At the end of the test the result or the remark will be given towards the "cognitive impairment”. As per the remark of the test the physician will proceed with the treatment part of it.

The mini mental state examination (MMSE)

It is one of a fuller cognitive test.
The mini mental state examination measures:

  • Orientation to time and place
  • Word recall
  • Language abilities
  • Attention and calculation
  • Visuospatial skills.
Treatment:

Since the brain cell death cannot be reversed so there is no known treatment to cure a degenerative cause of dementia symptoms or fully stop its progress.

But the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be reduced by drugs which helps to improve an individual's quality of life - there are four drugs in a class called cholinesterase inhibitor approved as of now:

  • Donepezil (brand name Aricept)
  • Alantamine (Reminyl)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)
  • Tacrine (Cognex).

The treatment of dementia depends on its etiology. In case of most dementias, including Alzheimer's disease, for which there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression.

Risk Factors And Prevention

Cardiovascular risk factors: Our brain is one of the body's richest networks of blood vessels. Any damage anywhere in the body will damage the blood vessels in your brain which affects the brain cells to loose oxygen and the vital food. Blood vessel changes in the brain are mostly associated to vascular dementia.

Physical exercise: Regular physical exercise will help to lower the risk of some types of dementia. Exercises directly benefit the brain cells by increasing the blood flow and the oxygen flow to the brain.

Diet: Eating habit also has a major impact towards the brain even though it has it’s effect on heart. The heart healthy food are all safe for the brain health also.

Risk Factors:
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Atherosclerosis ( A type of cardiac problem where the narrowing of the arteries takes place)
  • High levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL)
  • Above-average blood levels of homocysteine (a type of amino acid)
  • Diabetes, which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, which may cause vascular dementia
  • Mild cognitive impairment may also lead to dementia.

© 2014 Healthabove60.