Dementia

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Mental decline is one of the most concerning consequences of aging. That’s why it’s so important to understand what constitutes a normal part of getting older, or what could in fact be the onset of a more serious condition. If you have been experiencing frequent problems with your memory or often find yourself confused in new places, you may be going through the early signs of dementia. In 2010, there were an estimated 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will nearly double every 20 years, reaching an estimated 65.7 million by 2030. While most forms of dementia have no cure, there is a lot you can understand about it to better equip you to meet the challenges posed by this disease and improve the quality of your life and that of your loved ones. This section provides you with information about dementia, what symptoms you can expect, and tips on how to lower your risk of developing this condition. You can also find details about what tests are used to diagnose dementia, as well as a list of available treatments and management strategies. What is dementia? Dementia is not actually a specific disease. It’s a term that describes a range of symptoms, such as memory loss and a decline in social abilities, serious enough to interfere with a person’s day-to-day life. Dementia is almost invariably a condition of aging. Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, one of which is often memory loss. It can make you confused and unable to remember people, names and the appointments you have. It can also affect other everyday tasks like paying bills, preparing meals and keeping track of your wallet. Changes in personality and social behavior may also be experienced. There are many causes of dementia symptoms, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for the most common form of progressive dementia. While some forms of dementia are degenerative (get worse over time), other causes of dementia are treatable and sometimes even reversible. How does dementia occur? Dementia is caused by damage of nerve cells in the brain. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other, in turn, affecting a person’s thoughts, behaviour and feelings. Dementia may affect people in a variety of ways, depending on the distinct region of the brain where the damage has occurred. As each part of the brain is responsible for different functions, the damage can impair functions like memory, judgment and movement. What are the causes of dementia? While the exact causes of dementia are not known, there are factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include: Age: Increasing age is the greatest known risk factor for dementia. Family history and genetics: Your risk of developing dementia is higher if a first-degree relative (your parent, sibling or child) has the condition. Past head trauma: People who have experienced severe head trauma appear to have a greater risk of dementia. Lifestyle and health factors: Some evidence suggests that factors such as inadequate exercise, smoking, alcohol abuse and lack of social engagement can increase the chance of developing dementia. Mild cognitive impairment: People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have symptoms of cognitive decline that are worse than might be expected for their age, but not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia. Those with MCI have an increased risk of later developing dementia. Depression: Late-life depression, especially in men, may be an indication for the development of Alzheimer's-related dementia. Diabetes: If you have diabetes, you may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. High estrogen levels: Women taking estrogen and progesterone years after menopause are at greater risk of developing dementia.

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Depending on the cause, there are a range of symptoms that can indicate the onset of dementia. If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, talk to a doctor. Some treatable medical conditions can cause dementia symptoms, so it is essential to have a professional evaluation to determine the cause. Early diagnosis gives you the maximum benefit

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As there are several possible causes for memory loss and other symptoms of dementia, diagnosing this condition can be challenging and may require quite a few appointments.To diagnose dementia and rule out other conditions, the doctor will conduct a complete medical assessment. This will include a combination of the below tests: Medical history assessment: During a revie

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Unfortunately, most types of dementia can’t be cured. However, doctors can offer a range of ways to help you manage your condition better by lessening the symptoms. Medications Cholinesterase inhibitors: These medications – including donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne) – work by boosting levels of a chemical messenger involved in mem

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While there's no definitive way to prevent dementia, there are steps you can take that might help: Keep your mind active: Mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles, word games and memory training may delay the onset of dementia and help decrease its effects. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity not only improves a person’s overall wellb

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