Symptoms

Dementia is a common illness among elderly, which does not merely affect the patient’s mental capacity, but also with his ability to perform the activities of daily living. There is a misconception that dementia pertains to a specific disease. However, the truth is, dementia refers to a wide range of symptoms wherein memory loss is the most common manifestation. Aside from this, other indicative signs of dementia are impairment in two or more of the following core mental functions: communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment and visual perception. As a result, people with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.

Causes

Dementia is a degenerative condition caused by a damage in the brain related to neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. With these diseases, the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly than is part of the normal ageing process. Aside from these, other causes of dementia or dementia-like conditions that are reversible include depression, infections (e.g. infections of the brain such as encephalitis and HIV-related infections), some brain tumors, a lack of vitamin B in the diet and thyroid hormone, head injury and long-term alcohol misuse.

Treatment

Being considered as a degenerative condition that may worsen over time, there is no known cure for dementia. However, certain drugs and therapies may help slow down the progression of this disease. Talking therapies such as counseling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which give people the chance to speak in confidence to a trained professional about problems or issues that are causing them concern. Some people use talking therapies to help them to cope with specific difficulties, such as serious illness, bereavement, anxiety or depression, whereas other people may use them for personal growth and development. Moreover, instead of focusing what happened in the past, CBT revolves around ‘here and now’ and aims to improve the current situation by learning how to cope with difficult problems.