In this article we answer 30 questions related to dementia.
No, dementia does not have a cure. Most progressive forms of dementia cannot be slowed or stopped, but patients can take medications to temporarily improve the symptoms of the condition.
Also, some forms of non-drug therapy have been noted to temporarily improve the symptoms of dementia. These include listening to music and socialising.
Researchers have not been able to come up with a method of preventing all forms of dementia. This is because it is not entirely clear how the condition develops.
That being said, you can lower your chances of getting the disease by taking up a healthy lifestyle.
Specifically, you should exercise more and eat a healthy diet. This will reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular conditions, and that will, in turn, reduce your chances of developing vascular dementia.
Loneliness, social isolation, and untreated depression have also been noted to be risk factors for dementia. You should, therefore, try to interact more with people and also take care of your mental health.
It is not possible to reverse dementia.
You can only treat the symptoms of the disease. Scientists are working on possible cures of the condition, and it is likely that a cure will be available in a few years. Some promising cures include immunotherapy, stem cell research, and repurposing existing medicines.
Certain forms of dementia can be slowed down by socialising, eating healthy, engaging in mental exercises, and working out regularly. Avoiding head injuries can also help to slow down the progress of the disease.
That being said, most of the progressive forms of dementia cannot be slowed down. You can only treat their symptoms temporarily.
When you start showing early signs of dementia, you should visit a memory clinic for a diagnosis. At this point, you will be able to slow down the progress of the condition and will also be able to get tips on living with dementia.
Genetics is one of the biggest risk factors for dementia. In fact, heredity accounts for about 80% of the cases of dementia. If many people in a family have suffered from dementia, it is advisable for other family members to take serious preventive measures.
No, dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the same. Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to many memory-related symptoms and conditions. These symptoms usually show as a person grows older.
Alzheimer’s disease is, therefore, one of the many forms of dementia. It is the most common form of dementia, and that is why many people use Alzheimers and dementia interchangeably.
Senility and dementia are both cognitive disorders that develop in later years of life. However, the two conditions are distinct from each other. Senility refers to the natural decline in memory and the slowing down of the brain functions.
This condition is usually accompanied by physical symptoms like joint pains, frailer bones, loss of muscle strength, reduced hearing, reduced vision, and a lack of good posture.
With senility, you will still be able to perform your normal duties and take care of yourself properly. On the other hand, dementia is a severe form of mental decline. People with dementia will usually be unable to perform basic tasks because of poor judgement or impaired memory.
No, dementia does not cause any mental or physical pain.
However, people with dementia will usually suffer physical pain because they are prone to accidents and falls. You should note that dementia can affect a person’s ability to communicate properly, and that means they will not always be able to tell you they are in pain. If a patient appears to be suffering, you can press some parts of their body gently and see how they react.
A person in physical pain will react negatively when you apply pressure to the pain points.
Dementia medications are effective in temporarily treating the symptoms of the condition. With many forms of dementia, the medications will not slow down the progress of the condition.
If the patient already has advanced dementia, you should monitor them all the time, even if they are on medications. Managing finances and handling daily tasks without assistance can be challenging for such patients.
10) Are Dementia and Hearing Loss Related?
According to some studies, hearing loss increases the risk of developing dementia. Hearing loss itself is a natural part of ageing, and it can be treated easily if detected early enough. In the early stages, hearing loss is usually very mild, meaning most people will not seek treatment.
They usually start taking medications when it is already severe. Scientists are still trying to figure out whether aggressive treatment of advanced hearing loss can reduce the risk of dementia.
Dementia does not directly cause death. However, people suffering from the condition will often fall or get into accidents, and that can lead to death. Also, patients are often unable to communicate properly. That means any other pains or illnesses they are suffering from may not be diagnosed at all.
Pneumonia also kills many dementia patients. This is because the patients are usually unable to swallow food properly. Some parts of their foods can end up in their lungs and cause infections which eventually result in fatal pneumonia.
Recent studies indicate that dementia does not cause seizures. Instead, seizures have been noted to be risk factors for dementia. For this reason, people suffering from epilepsy and dementia should take antiseizure medications to alleviate their memory loss.
People living with dementia will often show signs that the condition is getting worse.
The condition starts as mild cognitive impairment. In this stage, they will be able to handle tasks like managing finances and taking care of their bodies. It then progresses to mild dementia which is characterised by memory lapses.
From here, the condition will develop to become moderate dementia where the patient will require assistance with their regular duties. The final stage is severe mental dementia. At this point, the patient will have trouble communicating and will need full-time assistance.
MRI scans are often used in memory clinics to determine whether a person is suffering from dementia. The test can show changes in the white matter of the brain, and this can indicate that the patient is suffering from dementia.
The results of the MRI scan can also show the specific cause of dementia in a particular patient. You should note that this method is not used on its own to diagnose dementia.
Dementia parents can often get paranoid and delusional since they experience glitches in memory. They can start getting suspicious of their caregivers and family members since they are usually unable to recognise and remember faces.
If a dementia patient forgets where they placed their belongings, they can start suspecting other people of stealing. You should not get emotional about such incidents and should instead reassure them that you are trying to take care of them.
Dementia does not come and go.
Once diagnosed, the condition is likely to keep getting worse. However, in the early stages, the symptoms of the disease can come and go. This does not mean that the patient is getting cured and then gets the disease again. Sometimes, the problem only seems to get better because the patient is treating other underlying illnesses like depression.
Some forms of dementia are also generally characterised by fluctuating symptoms, especially in the early stages. For example, Lewy body dementia usually comes with good days and bad days.
Dementia does not cause strokes. On the contrary, strokes can lead to vascular dementia. Even the most silent strokes can damage the tissues in the brain and trigger a slowly progressing form of dementia.
18) Can Dementia Get Better?
Progressive dementia can only get worse. The condition may progress quickly or slowly, and the rate of progress is determined by different factors. You should note that there is currently no cure for dementia, and the best you can do is to alleviate the symptoms.
Genetics is one of the biggest risk factors of dementia. People with a family history of the condition are highly likely to develop the disease later in life. This is why such people are advised to eat healthily and engage in physical activities. They should try as much as possible to prevent the disease.
Dementia patients suffer from memory loss and extreme confusion. The gaps in their memories are often filled with delusions, and that can make them paranoid, even in the presence of family members.
They can start feeling like people are out to get their money or even to hurt them, and they may express these sentiments every now and then.
You should handle the situation by reassuring them that you are looking out for their needs. Make sure you don’t give complicated explanations as that can confuse them and make them even more paranoid.
Dementia starts by destroying the connection between the brain cells and the cortex or outer layer of the brain. These cells eventually die. The cortex of the brain includes the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the parietal lobe.
Dementia affects many parts of the brain. The cortex is usually the first to get affected as the brain cells are initially disconnected from the outer part of the brain. One part that gets severely affected by the disease is the hippocampus.
This part of the brain helps people create new memories, and once the brain tissues are affected, a patient will have trouble remembering simple things.
Fronto temporal dementia will usually affect the parietal lobe. This part of the brain allows you to communicate and understand language. In the later stages of the condition, the parietal lobe will be severely affected and a patient will be unable to communicate effectively.
Parts of the brain that help with judgement, intelligence and behaviour will also be affected as the disease worsens.
Dementia is most common in low and middle-income countries.
More than 60% of dementia patients in the world come from these countries.
Dementia patients are forgetful and often experience episodes of great confusion. In the shower, they may have trouble understanding why there is water falling on them. This can make them paranoid and they may feel like you are trying to hurt them. Some patients will even experience hallucinations and feel like the water is drowning them.
Hallucination is very common in patients suffering from Lewy body dementia.
Generally, people with dementia will not always understand what is going on in the shower. If you are taking care of a person with dementia, you should try to clean parts of their body in stages.
You can start by cleaning their faces, and if they are responsive, you can proceed to other body parts. When they get anxious or restless, you should stop cleaning them and wait for them to relax. You should not insist on a full bath or change of clothes at once.
In later stages of the disease, dementia patients may start saying that they want to go home. This can be frustrating, especially if the patient is already at home with their families.
When a dementia patient says this, they often mean that they feel scared, unsafe, upset, physically uncomfortable, or unfamiliar with their surroundings. This may be caused by their memory loss or confusion. You can reduce confusion in the patients by setting up dementia clocks around the building.
Patients with frontotemporal dementia will also have trouble communicating, meaning you have to interpret their words beyond the face value. Pay attention to their body language to determine how you can help them feel more comfortable.
It is possible for dementia patients to experience abuse in the hands of caregivers, and that could make them want to go home. Spotting signs of abuse in the patient can help you eliminate the source of discomfort.
Dementia patients can experience sleep disturbances at night, but it is not clear how the two conditions are related. However, a good percentage of people with the disease have been noted to experience high levels of confusion, anxiety and restlessness as the days come to an end.
This could be because of mental and physical exhaustion from the activities of the day. The changes in lighting could also cause confusion towards the end of the day.
It is also possible that reduced cognitive function can affect the patients’ ability to differentiate dreams from reality. This can cause restlessness at night.
There are many reasons why dementia patients may not eat. First, many people with dementia also suffer from depression. This can affect their appetite. If you think your patient has depression, you should contact a doctor for a diagnosis and possible medications.
The patient may also not like the food, and they may be unable to communicate this problem to you.
You can give your patient a wider selection of foods so that they can take what they like. A patient who holds the food in their mouth for a long time is highly likely to be uninterested in that particular food. The patient could also be tired and not ready for food. Patients who look lethargic should be allowed to rest. When they get up again, you can try to feed them as you watch their responses.
Some dementia patients cry habitually, and this is not always because of any particular reason. Others will cry when they are in physical pain or distress. For example, they could be hungry, hurt, or in need of using the bathroom. If the patient cries often, you should try spotting signs of abuse or injuries on their bodies.
Other patients will cry because the environment is too stressful. For example, a place with extremely loud music can cause stress in such people and make them start to cry. Some patients will cry because of psychological reasons. They may get extremely confused and frustrated, or they could be suffering from depression.
Dementia patients can wander or get lost because of fear and stress. If the environment gets too overwhelming, they may start to walk away with no particular destination. Other times, the patients get lost as they try to look for someone or something.
It is also possible that the patient is just bored and looking for something to do.
The wandering behaviour of some patients may point towards past routines. They may remember that they used to go to work or to buy groceries and may be following their past habits. If the patient wanders at around the same time every day, you can try to find an activity to fill the time. To reduce disorientation, you can install dementia clocks around the house. You should also remove tripping hazards from their paths.
Aggression in dementia patients can be caused by discomfort, boredom, and confusion. They can sometimes get angry because they are unable to handle many tasks on their own.