Dementia

Dementia

Dementia

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by gradually worsening, usually permanent, unlimited cognitive — emotional, intellectual, mental, and subjective — losses.

Delirium vs Dementia

People often confuse delirium with dementia. Delirium follows a fluctuating course and is reversible. Dementia, on the other hand, keeps progressing and is irreversible. Delirium can be thought of as acute brain failure (sudden) and dementia as chronic brain failure (lifelong). People with dementia can also develop delirium — they can get temporary episodes of acute brain failure.

Dementia is diagnosed in a specialist setting, usually by an older-age psychiatrist.

Symptoms of Dementia:

The clinical features of dementia include:

  • Disintegration of memory
  • Language problems – understanding and expression
  • Less efficiency with activities of daily living
  • Behavioral and psychological symptoms – aggression, wandering, depression, anxiety, and apathy
  • Personality and intellectual disintegration
  • Delusions and/or hallucinations

A person with dementia can experience:

  • Agnosia – loss of ability to recognize people and/or objects
  • Apraxia – loss of ability to carry out learned, purposeful motor movements like lifting a fork to the mouth

Types of Dementia:

The different types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Fronto-temporal dementia

Causes of Dementia:

There are multiple factors that can increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia. These include:

  • Older age
  • A family history of dementia
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Low educational levels
  • Infections such as HIV and tuberculosis
  • Vitamin deficiencies such as of B12 and folate
  • Chemical imbalances such as too much or too little calcium and sodium

Risk factors for Dementia:

People with dementia are at increased risk of harm by actions like wandering on the streets or leaving the cooker on, causing a fire.

Treatment of Dementia:

A multidisciplinary team comprised of a psychiatrist, family doctor, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, and psychologist provide a holistic approach in the management of dementia.

  • Functional support is crucial so as to maximize mobility and to encourage independence with, for example, washing, toileting, and feeding.
  • Medication cannot cure dementia but can help to prevent the condition from progressing. These include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, which can enhance cognition. These medicines are associated with adverse effects and so patients on these drugs must be closely monitored by a psychiatrist.

Symptoms of Dementia:

The clinical features of dementia include:

  • Disintegration of memory
  • Language problems – understanding and expression
  • Less efficiency with activities of daily living
  • Behavioral and psychological symptoms – aggression, wandering, depression, anxiety, and apathy
  • Personality and intellectual disintegration
  • Delusions and/or hallucinations

A person with dementia can experience:

  • Agnosia – loss of ability to recognize people and/or objects
  • Apraxia – loss of ability to carry out learned, purposeful motor movements like lifting a fork to the mouth

Types of Dementia:

The different types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Fronto-temporal dementia

Causes of Dementia:

There are multiple factors that can increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia. These include:

  • Older age
  • A family history of dementia
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Low educational levels
  • Infections such as HIV and tuberculosis
  • Vitamin deficiencies such as of B12 and folate
  • Chemical imbalances such as too much or too little calcium and sodium

Risk factors for Dementia:

People with dementia are at increased risk of harm by actions like wandering on the streets or leaving the cooker on, causing a fire.

Treatment of Dementia:

A multidisciplinary team comprised of a psychiatrist, family doctor, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, and psychologist provide a holistic approach in the management of dementia.

  • Functional support is crucial so as to maximize mobility and to encourage independence with, for example, washing, toileting, and feeding.
  • Medication cannot cure dementia but can help to prevent the condition from progressing. These include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, which can enhance cognition. These medicines are associated with adverse effects and so patients on these drugs must be closely monitored by a psychiatrist.
Source MAYO CLINIC