Getting diagnosed with dementia can be a life changing event for you and your loved ones. Catching the symptoms early can help you develop amanagementplanfor the symptoms that will come. With the onset of dementia, you’llbegin to experience memory loss, problem solving issues, and a decline in other cognitive abilities. Your stress increases and your overall mental health is affected. The onset of symptoms can be quick and are often permanent. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. There are, however, preexisting health conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms.Thyroid issues and or vitamin deficiencies can cause dementia-like symptom that with correct medical intervention can often be reversed. While some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, being able to spot the difference between normal cognitive decline and early stages of Alzheimer’s is critical to getting treatment early. Whether you decide to seek home care or a memory care facility, knowing how to cope and manage these symptoms are important.
Causes of Dementia
This disease is caused by damage to brain cells—when brain cells get damaged, they are unable to communicate. When this occurs, brain functions such as memory and behavior are affected. As time goes on and the condition worsens, additional cognitive functions slow or shut down, making it difficult to complete simple tasks such as walking or bathing. Some causes of dementia are irreversible. Conditions such as depression, alcoholism, thyroid issues and vitamin deficiencies can be treated and lead to a reversal of the dementia symptoms. The main cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. As with dementia, early-stage Alzheimer’s patients begin to forget simple things like words or the location of everyday objects around their homes.
Main Causes of Dementia
- Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease- These are progressive.
- Vascular disorders. Affect the blood flow in your brain.
- Brain injuries such as falls, accidents, concussions.
- Infections of the nervous system.
- Long-term alcohol use.
Other factors that may put you at risk for dementia include age, family history, depression, smoking, or diabetes.
7 Stages of Dementia
- No cognitive decline. You are still able to function independently;neurological testing shows changes to your brain.
- Very mild cognitive decline. You start to misplace everyday objects and forget simple words. This stage is often missed by family members or friends as they are also symptoms of aging.
- Mild cognitive decline. Short-term memory loss begins to occur. Changes in thinking and reasoning. You may have a hard time making plans, remembering or recent events.
- Moderate cognitive decline. You will notice handling money, attending events, or traveling become very difficult. You become very disoriented and forget the date and time. Your loved ones will start to realize that your cognitive decline may not just be from old age. At stage four is when you will want to seek a clinical diagnosis.
- Moderately severe cognitive decline. At this point, you will have forgotten your phone number, address, or even your grandchildren’s names. You will be confused about which day of the week it is and need assistance with everyday functions, such as figuring out what to wear, or taking a bath.
- Severe cognitive decline. This stage is where you lose your memory, almost completely forgetting the name of your spouse, mistaking one person for another. As dementia worsens, you suffer from severe confusion and anxiety.
- Very severe cognitive decline. The final stage, at the end of dementia, you will be completely dependent, needing assistance with drinking, walking, and sitting. Loss of bladder control and your ability to communicate is very restricted, struggling to speak any words.
These stages are general and can affect every person differently. The timing of which these stages occur can also vary.
Treatment and prevention of dementia
Treating dementia depends on what caused it in the first place. For example, if dementia was bought on by causes such as vitamin deficiency, taking vitamin supplements can reverse the effects of dementia. Other causes, such as depression and thyroid problems, can also be treated. Regarding progressive Alzheimer’s disease, unfortunately there is no direct cure or treatment other than prescribed medications. Certain factors, such as aging or genetics, cannot be avoided when it comes to getting Alzheimer’s, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of dementia.
Ways to reduce your risk of dementia
- Healthy diet
- Daily exercise
- Mental activities such as reading, crossword puzzles, or playing chess
- Avoid smoking
Your brain is affected by your lifestyle. Doing the things listed above will help you and your brain stay healthy and can significantly reduce your risk of developing a cognitive disease.
Overall, dealing with dementia can be frightening. Understanding the causes and possible preventions can help you make the right lifestyle choices. If you or a loved one is suffering from cognitive decline, it is important to recognize the difference between mild cognitive decline from aging and early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s before the condition progresses beyond the initial stages.Ensuring your finances are in order and important documents such as wills, healthcare directives are updated and executed before you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This cannot only give you peace of mind but can save your family stress and difficulties as the disease progresses. Careful consideration should be given to your care as well. You should decide if you prefer to be in a memory care facility or cared for at home under by caregiver. Ideally having someone your love and trust to help you make these decisions and follow your wishes is ideal.