Getting to Know Dementia: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Dementia is a ravaging, debilitating disease that causes a lot of pain and heartbreak, not only for the patient but for their loved ones as well. That’s because dementia is the disease of memory loss. As the disease takes over the mind, wiping out memories of names, faces, and even motor skills, the body eventually follows and succumbs to it.

What is Dementia?

Essentially, dementia refers to general memory loss, as well as other thinking abilities, including language. It has many various causes, but Alzheimer’s by far is the most common. When dementia sets in, cognitive abilities go on a decline, usually at a rapid rate.

It can get so severe that the patient’s functionality, quality of life, and personal relationships are directly impacted negatively. Behavior and personality are affected, too, such as causing severe irritability and irrationality, which may cause the patient to be a danger to themselves too.

Dementia is often mistakenly referred to as senility, which is not the case at all. This correlation assumes mental illness comes part and parcel with aging when it isn’t. Instead, it is caused by damaged brain cells, which prevent them from communicating properly with each other.

Signs of Dementia

With keen observation, you can catch early signs of dementia. There are various signs to determine, but among the most common ones include forgetfulness or short-term memory issues, mood swings, fogginess or difficulty in concentration, inability to focus or follow a conversation, repetitive speech or behavior, and in case of more advanced stages, wandering out of what was supposed to familiar territory.

Signs of more advanced dementia may include an exhibition of diminishing critical-thinking abilities. The good news is the earlier you catch these signs, the better the chances are of them being able to maximize the benefits out of the treatments.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To confirm the diagnosis of dementia, the patient is subjected to cognitive and neuropsychological tests. These tests are designed to evaluate your cognitive function, measuring a variety of elements including memory, reasoning and judgment, orientation, and attention.

Brain scans are also used to supplement the findings of the tests. PET scans, in particular, examine the patterns of brain activity. It can also look for the amyloid protein deposits in the brain, which is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s.

Right now, the search continues for the cure for dementia. What is available at this point are treatments to help improve dementia symptoms. Different medications are going to be prescribed by the doctor, which should help patients retain better command of their cognitive abilities and functionalities.

These medications, however, may do come with certain side-effects, such as depression, insomnia, agitation, hallucination, and more. The doctor will most likely prescribe medications to take care of these side-effects as well.

Dealing with dementia is, without a doubt, one of the toughest things anyone may have to deal with in their life. With the help of science and your doctor, however, it does not have to up-end your life fully as you know it. With early diagnosis and intervention, applying effective treatment remains highly possible.

 

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