Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that affect cognitive functions of the brain. Dementia is loss of memory and ability to communicate and solve problems. Dementia can impair people’s ability to perform normal daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and eating and it can alter people’s personalities and lead to agitation, delusions, hallucinations and depression. It is important to note that although memory loss is a common aspect of dementia, memory loss by itself does not mean you have dementia. People with dementia have serious problems involving not only memory but also other brain functions, resulting in inability to carry out normal daily activities.
Symptoms of dementia can vary greatly between individuals.
Typically, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired for a diagnosis of dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Warning signs to watch for if you are worried someone you love may be suffering from dementia:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
Causes of Dementia
Some diseases that can cause dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Doctors have identified other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms including reactions to medications, metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, infections, poisoning, brain tumors, anoxia or hypoxia (conditions in which the brain’s oxygen supply is either reduced or cut off entirely), and heart and lung problems.
Although it is common in very elderly individuals, dementia is not a normal part of the aging process.
Treatment for Dementia
Drugs to specifically treat Alzheimer’s disease and some other progressive dementias are now available. Although these drugs do not halt the disease or reverse existing brain damage, they can improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. For assistance with a physician referral, call (888) 800-7688. To request additional information from someone at the Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California, email us today.