Dementia is a general term for a group of symptoms that are caused by brain damage and can affect memory, thinking skills, behavior, or the ability to perform everyday tasks. The most common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia.
What is Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It affects more than 5 million Americans over age 65 and nearly half a million people in Canada. AD is characterized by progressive loss of memory and other cognitive functions. Symptoms usually appear gradually and worsen with time. As the disease progresses, patients may lose their ability to recognize family members, speak clearly, walk without assistance, eat and sleep properly. Eventually, they become bedridden and require constant care.
Types of Demetia:
Vascular Dementia (VaD) is another type of dementia that occurs when there is damage to blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This damage leads to changes in the way the brain works. VaD often begins slowly and worsens over time. Patients may have trouble remembering recent events, making decisions, planning ahead, paying attention, following directions, balancing work and home responsibilities, and communicating effectively.
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a relatively rare type of dementia that causes problems with movement, coordination, balance, vision, hearing and speech. LBD is also called “dementia with Parkinsonism” because it shares some features with Parkinson’s disease. People who have LBD may experience hallucinations, delusions, depression, anxiety, agitation, apathy, irritability, tremors, stiffness, slow movements, shuffling gait and difficulty swallowing.
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is a condition that involves changes in personality, social behavior, language, judgment, decision-making and/or reasoning abilities. FTD is sometimes referred to as Pick’s disease after Dr. Henry Pick, an American neurologist who first described the disorder in 1911. FTD is not considered a true dementia; rather, it is a syndrome that includes signs and symptoms associated with many different diseases.
Mixed Dementia (MD) is a combination of two or more types of dementia. MD is most commonly seen in older adults who have had one or more strokes. In these cases, the stroke damages both sides of the brain, causing problems on both sides.
Cause of Dementia
The cause of dementia is unknown. However, research suggests that genetics plays a role. Other factors that increase risk include:
- Age – Alzheimer tend to occur later in life. With each passing year, your chance of developing Alzheimer increases.
- Family history – If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer, you are at increased risk of getting it too.
- Head trauma – A head injury can lead to Alzheimer.
- Stroke – Damage to certain areas of the brain can result in Alzheimer.
- Diabetes – High levels of sugar in the blood can damage nerve cells and make them less able to function.
- Smoking – Cigarette smoking may be linked to an increased risk for vascular Alzheimer.
- Low education level – Lower educational attainment is associated with higher rates of Alzheimer.
- Depression – Depression can affect how well you think and remember things.
- Thyroid dysfunction – An under active thyroid gland can lower energy levels and impair memory.
- Alcohol abuse – Heavy drinking can damage the brain.
- Stress – Too much stress can trigger physical reactions that can worsen cognitive impairment.
- Lack of exercise – Exercise helps keep muscles strong and healthy. It also improves circulation and oxygen flow throughout the body.
- Poor nutrition – Eating a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars can raise cholesterol levels. This can put pressure on arteries, causing plaque buildup. Plaque clogs arteries and reduces blood flow to the brain.
How does Dementia Affect Your Life?
It can be difficult for someone who has Alzheimer to live independently. They may need help getting dressed, eating, bathing, using the bathroom, and taking medication. People with Alzheimer are at greater risk for falls. Falls can lead to broken bones, internal injuries, and even death.
Alzheimer makes it hard for caregivers to provide emotional support. Caregivers may feel frustrated, angry, sad, guilty, or helpless.
Can Psychiatrists help dementia patients?
Yes! There are many ways psychiatrists can help people with Alzheimer. Best psychiatrist in Lahore can diagnose dementia and other mental health conditions. Psychiatrists have special training in treating people with dementia. They understand the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia.
How do I know if my loved one has dementia?
If you notice any of these signs, your loved one might have Alzheimer:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty planning ahead
- Getting lost easily
- Losing interest in things they used to enjoy
- Changes in mood or behavior
Is there anything else I should know about dementia?
Yes. People with Alzheimer often have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings. This can make them seem confused or irritable.
Can psychiatry help me care for my loved one with dementia?
Absolutely! Psychiatry can help you learn how to cope with stress, manage depression, and improve communication skills. It also helps you recognize warning signs of suicide so you can take action before your loved one becomes suicidal.
Do I really need to see a psychiatrist?
Yes! You don’t want to miss out on important treatment options because you didn’t think of seeing a psychiatrist first.
Will my loved one get better without psychiatric help?
No. without psychiatric services Alzheimer doesn’t go away. Even though some symptoms will improve over time, your loved one will always need help managing everyday tasks.
Why would I choose a psychiatrist instead of a primary care doctor?
Primary care doctors treat illnesses like colds and flu. They aren’t trained to deal with problems like anxiety, depression, or memory loss.
The best way to prevent dementia is to avoid risks that cause brain damage. These include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising enough, and having high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. You can also reduce your chances of developing dementia by following healthy habits. Eat well, exercise regularly, keep your weight under control, and limit your intake of sugar and salt.