What is dementia?
It’s a general term fora decline in cognitive ability enough to interfere with daily life.
*Alzheimer’s is most common type of dementia, it accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases
*Vascular dementia: is 2nd most common type of dementia and occurs only after a stroke.
Symptoms of dementia: (at least two of the following core mental functions must significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
-communication and language
-ability to focus and pay attention
-reasoning and judgement
*Older adults with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of personal items, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.
*Many dementias begin slowly and gradually get worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition, and even if symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and can plan for the future.
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and emotions can be affected.
While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:
- Medication side effects
- Excess use of alcohol
- Thyroid problems
- Vitamin deficiencies
Diagnosis of dementia
There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behavior associated with each type. Doctors can determine that a person has dementia with a high level of certainty. But it’s harder to determine the exact type of dementia because the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap. In some cases, a doctor may diagnose “dementia” and not specify a type. If this occurs it may be necessary to see a specialist such as a neurologist or gero-psychologist.
Physical exercise: Regular physical exercise may help lower the risk of some types of dementia. Evidence suggests exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Physical exercise that requires coordination, i.e. Ballroom dancing, Nordic pole walking, tennis, boxing help keep the brain exercised and sharp.
Diet: What you eat may have its greatest impact on brain health through its effect on heart health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.