Dementia, Pathophysiology and Etiology
Dementia is a brain disorder that affects an individual’s thinking and reasoning capacity. Dementia involves a combination of many neurodegenerative diseases and conditions that affect daily activities as opposed to a single disease. It mainly affects neurons and cells in the cerebral cortex causing deterioration of function in the cortex (Alzheimer’s Association Web). Dementia mainly affects older people aged 65 years and above because old age is a contributing factor. Neurodegenerative disorders are the main causes of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease contributing 60-70% of the cases (Davis Web). Other diseases associated with dementia include dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. The diseases often cause brain damage leading to premature brain degeneration and cell death. Thus, an individual’s mental activity is affected, causing memory loss and thinking incapability. The collection of isolated proteins in the brain is the main cause of brain damage that leads to dementia. Dementia is often not a hereditary disease, but a few cases of frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be hereditary. Shortage or interruption of blood supply to the brain often causes vascular dementia. Other causes of dementia include vitamin B and thyroid hormone deficiency, head injury, brain tumors, prolonged alcohol abuse, and depression (Bourgeois and Ellen 17).
Signs and Symptoms
Dementia often manifests itself in various symptoms, both mental and physical. Memory loss and inability to reason are the main symptoms of dementia, where an individual fails to keep track of vital things such as wallet and keys, forgets to pay bills, prepare meals, or appointments. The individual also experiences difficulty communicating, organizing, planning, handling complex tasks, coordinating and other motor functions. In addition, the individual also suffers detrimental mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, irritability and other personality changes. Visual perception and disorientation such as getting lost easily are also symptoms associated with dementia. Most dementia signs and symptoms are progressive and worsen with time; thus, early diagnosis is recommended for treatment, management and future planning (McNamara 35).
Most cases of dementia such as Alzheimer’s diseases have no cure, and treatment options often aim at reducing symptom development. Both drug and nondrug options are available for the management of dementia. Drug based options include medications that help in boosting the levels of chemicals associated with memory and judgement in the brain. The drugs include galantamine, rivastigmine and donepezil. Memantine is another drug that helps in the regulation of glutamate, a brain chemical that controls essential brain activities such as memory and learning. Nondrug options include therapies and lifestyle adjustment (Bourgeois and Ellen 133). Occupational therapies are often recommended to help an individual cope with the condition and adapt to daily activities and movement while living with dementia. Modifying the environment helps an individual function and focus by reducing noise and clutter. Handling the individuals with care, such as avoiding scolding, correcting, or quizzing them helps improve the condition. Making tasks easier to reduce confusion for people with dementia is also essential in managing the condition.
Dementia can be prevented by adopting various behaviour and lifestyle changes. Both physical and mental activity helps in delaying the onset of the condition and reducing its symptoms. Engaging in various activities such as board games, memory training, sports, and social interactions help in keeping an individual active. Lifestyle changes such as adopting habits that aim at lowering the blood pressure and quitting smoking help in reducing the risk of dementia. Maintaining a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vegetables and fruits helps in boosting an individual’s health and reducing the risks of dementia. Research has also revealed that reading and pursuing education helps the brain to build a strong network of nerve cells that help in compensating the brain damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases (MediLexicon International Limited Web). Thus, education helps in reducing mental decline that often leads to dementia.
Alzheimer’s Association. What Is Dementia? 2014. Web. 26 May 2014.
Bourgeois, Michelle and Ellen Hickey. Dementia: From Diagnosis to Management – A Functional Approach. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, 2011. Print.
Davis, Charles. Dementia. Medicine Net, 1996. Web. 26 May 2014.
McNamara, Patrick. Dementia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.
MediLexicon International Limited. What is dementia? The signs, symptoms and causes of dementia, 13 Mar. 2009. Web. 26 May 2014.