What is dementia?

Dementia is classified as a collection of brain disorders that affect
memory and the ability to think logically.

Different forms of dementia exist, such as:

  • Alzheimer’s disease, a prevalent cause of dementia, causes brain cells to degenerate slowly.
  • Vascular dementia is dementia caused by poor blood flow to areas of the brain. As a result, blood clots or fat deposits clog the brain's blood vessels. Vascular dementia commonly affects people who have experienced a stroke or are at risk of strokes.
  • Parkinson's disease-related dementia normally affects the patient’s motor function, leading to trembling, muscle stiffness and slow movements.
  • Frontotemporal dementia is a subtype of dementia and, although rare, can affect language and behaviour. This form of dementia affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
  • Other causes of dementia are related to significant brain trauma or brain damage resulting from traumatic injuries that affect brain regions.
What are dementia symptoms?
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty with comprehension; for example, the patient is unable to identify words for use  when speaking.
  • Unable to live up to their responsibilities

Dementia in its advanced stage can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Worsening anger
  • Believing things that are not true
  • Limited functions, impairing the person’s ability to bathe, clean themselves or dress
  • Loss of bladder and bowel function (incontinence)
Who is at risk?

Patients with a genetic history of dementia or related conditions are more inclined to develop dementia. Age also plays a role in the development of dementia. It is highly uncommon for patients under sixty to develop dementia. However, the elderly over eighty are at increased risk of developing dementia.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
How do you treat dementia?

Treatment for dementia depends on the type the patient is diagnosed with. For example, Alzheimer’s disease can be treated with medication, Aducanumab, the only approved immunosuppressant (antibody medication) for Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia can be managed by monitoring the patient’s cholesterol and blood pressure timeously.

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for dementia. However, Dr Coetzer can help ease the symptoms and manage the patient’s level of depression and anxiety associated with the condition. Furthermore, medications exist to slow neurological disease progression and prevent disabling symptoms from taking over the patient's life.

Quote IconLove and respect old-aged people because you are ageing too.