One of the drawbacks of aging is inevitable long-term cognitive decline. For many children of older adults and medical professionals who specialize in elder care, dementia treatment can be particularly difficult to deal with, especially in patients who have seen their symptoms of dementia reach a critical stage.
Luckily if a loved one does have dementia, in the hands of the right physicians they have solid options. But the first step is always to figure out if a person is suffering from the disease. Read on to better understand the signs and symptoms of dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia
The early signs of dementia often begin with mild memory loss, making it difficult to diagnose a person with dementia definitively. This is because so many different things can cause memory loss, including getting older.
However, as time goes on, it will become apparent to friends and family who know the individual well that something else is there. Eventually, they will begin looking for symptoms of dementia. These symptoms vary and often include a range of cognitive and psychological changes.
- Difficulty with moderate to complex rules or tasks
- Problems with spatial awareness or coordination
- Inability to remember directions or names
- Significant loss of vocabulary in a relatively short amount of time
- Major personality shifts
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Depression, anxiety, or other chronic mental health problems
- Inappropriate behavior
Not every person experiences every symptom, so it takes an experienced physician to be able to identify and diagnose dementia correctly.
Causes of Dementia
Dementia is a unique disease because it damages nerve cells and a loss of connections in the brain, which means that this damage can be caused by a multitude of other factors and diseases. Some of these other diseases or causes include:
- Vascular dementia. This is when blood vessels that distribute oxygen directly to the brain are damaged, which means your brain and its neural pathways aren’t receiving enough oxygen.
- Alzheimer’s. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two nasty diseases that frequently work hand-in-hand. Alzheimer’s is the number one cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s dumps protein clusters called beta-amyloid, a knotted spaghetti-like structure of tau proteins that inhibit the brain from properly functioning.
- Lewy body. Lewy body dementia is due to different protein clusters created in the brains of those with Parkinson’s but also Alzheimer’s again. These can be more debilitating and often responsible for severe dissociative, paranoia, or hallucinogenic symptoms.
- Mixed dementia. Another common type of dementia frequently found in people aged 80 and older is mixed dementia. It encompasses a range of problems that can weaken the mind and body over the years, from medications to strokes, to anything else on this list.
Dementia Treatment and Prevention
Dementia treatments often identify significant risk factors, like alcohol or poor diet, and begin with lifestyle changes that mitigate those risk factors.
Patients are also monitored using a mix of CT, MRI, or PET brain scans, which will show if there is internal bleeding, evidence of new strokes, brainwave activity patterns, and protein buildup. Monitoring these factors allows doctors to administer new drugs or lifestyle treatments depending on how patients progress.
Some contributors to a patient’s dementia can be reversed if a contributing factor is due to a vitamin deficiency (a common one is B-12) or an underactive thyroid gland. In those cases, treating the issue may allow a patient’s symptoms to reverse themselves, sometimes for the long term.
Don’t Wait to Take Action
If you are concerned that a loved one may be showing signs of dementia or want to learn more, please call us 24/7 at (800) 869-2136 or visit our website to use our Live Chat. Or you can fill out a form, and someone will call you back at a time of your choice.
Getting the proper treatment starts with contacting experienced medical professionals who can identify a patient’s needs and mitigate further decline. Speak with Capital Caring Health to learn more about our hospice care services or schedule an appointment.