“Grandma gets a bit demented.” The word ‘dement’ has been given the same meaning in our language as ‘forgetful’. But dementia means more than just memory loss. How do you know if someone is suffering from dementia and can you do something about it?
The word dementia indicates that there is a decline in the functioning of the brain. The different tasks that the brain has, the so-called cognitive functions, are no longer performed properly.
Different types of dementia
Not only the memory is affected, but also the language use (aphasia), motor planning (apraxia) and the recognition of people and objects (agnosia). Someone with dementia suffers from these symptoms during normal daily activities. The decline in cognition can be the result of many disorders. The disease of Alzheimer’s is most famous. But Parkinson , Creutzfeld-Jakob , Huntington and even Aids can also cause dementia. All result in the patient being able to function less well, but in exactly which way, depends on the location and nature of the dementia.
A beginning dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, is so insidious that it quickly goes unnoticed. Demented elderly people can come up with good excuses and their partners get a lot of problems for them. They help them with things that have been lost and take over tasks from them. The problems often suddenly become visible in unexpected situations. For example, if the partner dies or the patient breaks a hip. Demented people can only adapt badly to this new situation. The decline suddenly becomes painfully clear. Weird situations can arise. The glasses that have been lost for days are found in the freezer. The refrigerator bulges with a supply of milk that is replenished every day. The patient asks about people who have been dead for years, or suddenly does not know how to make coffee.
The once-civilized man taps one scandalous joke after another, in a situation where it does not fit at all. Many people also become disoriented. That means that they no longer know where they are and in what time they live. For example, they see their child for their mother. Because these demented elderly people also notice that something is wrong, they often become suspicious. They think that others are moving things or that they are being fooled. Or worse: that other people think they are going crazy. Gradually there will be so many functions that the patients become more and more in need of help. They run the risk of losing contact. The world around them is no longer recognizable. They prefer to be in their heads, with their own memories. What is striking about Alzheimer’s is that the patient suffers from his limitations. Socially they remain very skilled, they retain their character and experienced emotions. medication for memory loss
The genes play a major role for most types of dementia. These determine how the brain develops. In Alzheimer’s, this manifests itself in a deviation in protein production. In the brain, protein accumulations, so-called tangles and plaques, which make the transmission of information more difficult. Other possible causes, lack of vitamins or exposure to heavy metals are still not proven.
To be sure of dementia it is wise to visit a doctor or a memory clinic. They can determine with certainty whether dementia is involved and which type. They can also exclude other causes of the problems. Many of the symptoms can also indicate a delirium , normal memory loss, depression or anxiety disorder.
There is no cure for dementia. It is a neurodegenerative disorder. This means that the course can not improve, you can at most slow it down. By living healthy, both mentally and physically, the body can better absorb the deficiencies that dementia entails. As a result, for example, the brain is trained in searching for information and the heart provides a good blood circulation for all those nerve cells in the brain.
Often certain vitamins are recommended: vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid. The effects are being investigated, but are still not proven. The quality of life can also be maintained for as long as possible. Memories or aids in the home can contribute to self-reliance. Bystanders can learn how they can best help and approach the demented. Understanding what dementia entails is an important first step…