What is dementia?


Know the basics

What is dementia?

Dementia refers to a group of symptoms that considerably affect memory, thinking and language – related abilities. However, having memory loss does not mean that you are having dementia as it is caused by many reasons.

How common is dementia?

Dementia mostly affects people at the age of 65 and more. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of dementia?

The common symptoms of dementia are:

  • Memory loss;
  • Difficulty with using language, communicating and doing normal activities;
  • Confusing about the time or place;
  • Difficulty with abstract thinking;
  • Misplacing objects;
  • Suddenly change in behavior, personality and mood;
  • Loss of initiative or apathy.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any problems with memory, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes dementia?

Dementia is caused by damaged brain cells. This will interrupt brain cells from communicating with each other, thus affecting behavior and feelings.

Most damages in the brain in dementia are permanent and worsen through time. However, the effect on memory and thinking problems are thought to caused by the following conditions. They can be improved when the condition is treated or addressed:

  • Depression;
  • Medication side effects;
  • Alcohol abuse;
  • Thyroid problems;
  • Vitamin deficiencies.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for dementia?

Risk factors you cannot change:

  • Age:you are more likely to have dementia after age 65. However, dementia is not a normal part of aging process, and dementia can also occur in the young.
  • Family history:many people with a family history never develop symptoms, and many people without a family history do. Doctors may take some tests to determine whether you have certain genetic mutations.
  • Down syndrome:many people with Down syndrome develop early – onset Alzheimer’s disease in the middle age.
  • Mild cognitive impairment: this involves memory problems but without loss of daily function. It puts people at higher risk of dementia.

Risk factors you can change:

  • Heavy alcohol abuse:if you drink large amounts of alcohol, you might have a higher risk of dementia.
  • Cardiovascular risk factors:these include high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, fats build – up in your artery walls (atherosclerosis) and obesity.
  • Depression:it is said to indicate the development of dementia.
  • Diabetes:if you have diabetes, you might have an increased risk of dementia, especially if it is poorly controlled.
  • Smoking:this might increase your risk of getting dementia and other disease such as blood vessel (vascular) diseases.
  • Sleep apnea:people who snore and have episodes which they frequently stop breathing while asleep may have reversible memory loss.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dementia diagnosed?

Dementia is diagnosed by:

  • Medical history: doctor will ask you questions about family history for dementia, prior illnesses, injuries and surgeries as well as the medications in the past up to now, and current chronic conditions to identify possible causes for dementia.
  • Physical examination: tests about hearing and vision ability; blood pressure; pulse; other basic indicators of health and disease can detect acute or chronic medical conditions.
  • Laboratory tests: blood tests, electroencephalography, or brain scans will be conducted, depending on your medical history and symptoms.
  • Neurological examination: it identify problems with the brain and nervous system. This will also help to detect nervous system problems that may cause thinking and behavior disorders.
  • Neuropsychological tests: these are simple tests or questionnaires. For examples, doctor will ask patients to recall words or to name objects, which help to establish the extent of problems, track changes in your abilities, and assess your preserved abilities.

How is dementia treated?

Dementia can be treated by using medication and therapies:

  • Medications:
    • Cholinesterase inhibitors: including donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne).
    • Memantine: in some cases, memantine is prescribed with a cholinesterase inhibitor.
    • Other prescription medications can be used to treat dementia.
  • Other non–drug treatments include: occupational therapy, modifying the environment or tasks may help you to manage behaviors and reduce confusion.
  • Relaxation therapies such as music, pet, art, or massage therapy will help stimulate moods and behaviors.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dementia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with dementia:

  • Improve communication: try eye contact and speak slowly when talking. You can also use simple gestures and cues to present your ideas.
  • Exercise: this will help you improve your overall health as well as protect your brain, especially with a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a balance lifestyle: try to encourage daily activities with others like dancing, painting, cooking, singing or anything you like.
  • Get healthy sleep: minimizing caffeine; discouraging napping and offering opportunities for exercise during the day; trying to be away from noise might give you 7 – 8 hours of restful sleep.
  • Keeping a calendar: it might remind you of upcoming events, routine and medication schedules.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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