Dementia is a medical condition and a general term that deals with a problem with memory loss, changes in ability to process language, such as speaking, and a clear change in the ability to solve problems and general thinking changes. It can become serious enough that it can interfere with daily life. There are serious changes to the Brain which affects the mind’s ability to process information.
As age progresses – The function of the brain will, in some manner, worsen – this is typical and expected. Memory, thought processes, concepts, and much more will all be affected.
A “normal” loss of brain function is probable in the typical adult and is expected. Misplacement of keys or forgetting birthdays or such can be seen.
Dementia is not a single disease and can be a symptom of an entirely different condition that is affecting the brain. There are multiple causes of dementia and these will be highlighted below.
Adults with Dementia:
This serious medical condition is brain deterioration that is above and beyond the “normal” level or loss of function. Typically it affects the older population but it can be seen any adult age.
Often the diagnosis requires 6 months of symptoms. It is not a single disease or a single symptom but rather a syndrome. It can affect language, memory, problem-solving, attention, and more. Disorientation of memory can occur – this deals with not knowing – time, place, day of the week, and even the year.
What Symptoms can be seen in Dementia?:
– Change in memory – both short and long – one or the other is often more affected
– Change in language
– Change in problem-solving
– Disorientation of place
– Disorientation of time
– Getting lost
Types or Classifications of Dementia
1.) Cortical Dementia
– This results from changes to the cerebral cortex
– Often things such as loss of speech, ability to remember language and memory problems can be seen.
2.) Subcortical Dementia
– This results from changes below the cerebral cortex.
– It can include changes in personality, and/or speed of thinking and the ability to stay on task is variably affected.
Examples of the 2 types of Dementia:
2.) Subcortical Dementia
– Parkinson’s disease
– Huntington’s disease
– Vitamin B1 deficiency
– Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Subdural hematoma
– AIDS dementia complex
– Dementia of unknown origin
– Dementia not otherwise classified
– many others
Examination to Help the Diagnosis Includes:
1.) Mini-Mental State Exam
3.) Memory recall
4.) Informative questionnaires
5.) Neuropsychological testing
6.) Blood tests
7.) CT or MRI
8.) PET scan
Often no curative treatment exists
When treatment is an option it is usually due to an underlying condition as mentioned above.
1.) Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors
. Tacrine (Cognex)
. Rivastigmine (Exelon)
. Donepezil (Aricept)
. Galantamine (Razadyne)
2.) N-Methyl-D-aspartate Blockers
. Memantine (Namenda)
3.) Antidepressant drugs – Helps with some of the symptoms of depression
4.) Anti-psychotic drugs – Helps with some of the symptoms of the disease.
. Selegiline – used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease