Dementia is a condition characterized by a decline in cognitive function, leading to memory loss, confusion, difficulties with thinking, language, problem-solving, and more. These symptoms can significantly disrupt an individual’s daily routines and overall quality of life. Typically, dementia affects older individuals or those with a family history of the condition, with younger people being less prone to developing it. Around 85% of people diagnosed with dementia are 75 years or older, and the risk doubles every 10 years after the age of 60. At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we recognize the value of comprehensive knowledge in addressing various health concerns. Here, we provide essential information to empower you with awareness and promote responsible decision-making.
What Causes Dementia?
Every region of the brain is responsible for a different function, so when certain brain cells in an area become damaged, it makes it difficult for that region to function properly. Certain diseases that a person can develop can damage brain cells which makes it hard for the cells to communicate effectively and over time leads to dementia. There are other diseases outside of dementia that are similar and could be mistaken for it, however they could improve with treatment, depending on what the disease is. These are a list of conditions that could be mistaken for dementia:
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Infections and Immune Disorders
- Metabolic Problems and Endocrine Abnormalities
- Medication Side Effects
- Brain Tumors
- Normal-Pressure Hydrocephalus
- Subdural Hematomas
Here are some diseases or disorders that have been linked to dementia:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Signs You or Someone You Know Could Have Dementia
- Confusion or being disoriented
- Memory loss
- Struggling to manage finances
- Repeating words or phrases
- Losing track of time
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies
- Agitation or stress
- Difficulty with problem solving or reasoning
- Difficulty with motor functions or coordination
- Difficulty finding words or being able to communicate
- Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities
- Difficulty handling complex tasks
- Difficulty planning and organizing
- Personality changes
- Inappropriate behavior
Progressive Dementia Types That are not Reversible
- Vascular Dementia- This is caused by damage to the vessels that provide the brain with blood. Having issue with the blood vessels could lead to strokes or could damage the fibers in the white matter of the brain. With this comes memory loss, slowed thinking, loss of focus, and difficulty with problem-solving.
- Lewy Body Dementia- This is one of the more common types of progressive dementia. This is caused by abnormal clumps of protein that are balloon-like found in the brain. Symptoms of this type of dementia include slow movement, tremors, visual hallucinations, problems with focusing and paying attention.
- Mixed Dementia- This refers to those that have a combination of the other types of progressive dementias, such as having both Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia.
- Frontotemporal Dementia- This is when the nerve cells and their connections in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain start to break down. You will start to see effects in behavior, thinking, personality, judgment, language, and movement.
- Alzheimer’s Disease- People with this have clumps of protein in their brain that damage the neurons and the fibers connecting them. This is the most common cause of dementia.
Seven Stages of Dementia
At around stage 5 of 7 of dementia, most people are unable to survive without assistance from someone. Out of all the stages, stage 3 is where most people with dementia are diagnosed with it.
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
Stage 2: Age-associated memory impairment
They may have difficulty remembering small things like the placement of objects, for example forgetting where their glasses or the remote was placed. Could also forget names of people such as acquaintances, however they can easily pass a clinical interview.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment
They may have poor work performance, be unable to recall words or names, and have difficulty finding common destinations that they have been to before.
Stage 4: Mild Dementia
Experiencing withdrawal and having increased anxiety are pretty common at this stage of dementia. They may struggle remembering personal history and current events. Things like maintaining finances or travel may become difficult, but people with mild dementia will usually be able to recognize people that are familiar and perform most activities of daily living.
Stage 5: Moderate Dementia
They may start to experience disorientation with dates and times and may be unable to recall important aspects of their current lives, such as a grandchild’s name or their address. Activities like preparing meals, selecting clothes, or grooming may require assistance, unlike other activities like eating or using the bathroom.
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia
They often will not be able to remember names of significant people in their lives, such as their spouse or their own children. They have little awareness of recent personal history and incontinence and sleep disruption are common. If they did a cognitive assessment like counting or word recall, this may be difficult.
Stage 7: Severe Dementia
In this stage, the brain becomes unable to tell the body what to do, so the verbal abilities and basic motor skills are lost in this stage of cognitive decline.
- Diet and exercise
- Cardiovascular risk factors
- Excessive Alcohol Use
- Air Pollution
- Head Trauma
- Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
- Medications that can worsen memory
- Sleep disturbances
What You can do to Help Decrease the Risk of Developing Dementia
- Be physically and socially active
- Make sure you are in taking enough vitamins
- Keep your mind active
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Treat health conditions
- Manage cardiovascular risk factors
- Get good, quality sleep
- Treat hearing problems
If you are worried you have dementia or a loved one does, the first step is visiting your primary care doctor. From here your primary care doctor can direct you to a doctor specialized in disorders of the brain such as seeing a neuropsychologist, geriatric psychiatrist, or a geriatrician.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific medical advice or practices endorsed by TGH Urgent Care. It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical advice. If you are currently experiencing a medical emergency, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. We recommend visiting one of our nearest walk-in clinics, and to streamline your visit, we encourage you to utilize our convenient OnmyWay system, designed to save you time in line.
The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.