Health > All About Dementia – Types, Causes, Stages, Risk Factors, and Treatment 
21st Mar 2022

All About Dementia – Types, Causes, Stages, Risk Factors, and Treatment 

Dementia is growing at a rapid rate in seniors. Taking preventive actions from an early stage can help improve the quality of life for many seniors. To generate awareness of this severe mental condition, we are expounding all the essential information such as Dementia meaning, types, symptoms, stages, causes, remedies, and home care to-do’s, related to this condition.  

Meaning of Dementia in Layman’s Language  

Dementia is a brain disorder that leads to confusion and memory loss. Most often, dementia affects seniors, but can also affect children. Although it’s an ageing process, dementia is not natural or normal. Dementia alters the brain’s ability to think, remember, and speak. When brain cells are destroyed or damaged, dementia sets in. Among the most common causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. 

8 Warning Signs of Dementia  

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, they may experience various symptoms. While the exact symptoms of dementia vary, the most common symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and personality changes.   

The following are signs that indicate you may be suffering from Dementia:  

  1. Memory loss – This problem begins gradually and can impact both long-term and short-term memory. Symptoms of memory loss include forgetting where you’ve been, not being able to find everyday items, and having difficulty remembering schedules.  
  2. Confusion – A decline in cognitive abilities can make it hard to make good decisions and cause confusion. They become more incoherent and struggle with organising things. .   
  3. Irritation – A frequent mood change is one of the warning signs of Dementia. Individuals face difficulty in expressing their emotions and become irritated.   
  4. Apathy – People lose interest in activities they once enjoyed or did with others. This condition can alter a person’s personality and ability to follow routines.   
  5. Inability to complete routine tasks – People with dementia may have trouble concentrating or completing tasks. They may lose the ability to perform personal hygiene tasks and require support.   
  6. Misplacing things – A person may also put things in inappropriate places. A wristwatch may be placed in a sugar bowl, or a shoe might end up in a freezer.  
  7. Repetition – When an individual asks the same question very often or tells the same story repeatedly, it is an early sign of dementia.  
  8. Loss of sense of direction – An individual forgets a way to a place or landmark which was once familiar. They lose spatial orientation. It gets worse with time.   

 Causes of Dementia  

There are many causes behind Dementia; some of them are treatable, while some are not. It includes infections, hormone imbalances, brain tumours, head injuries, and vitamin deficiencies.    

Oftentimes Cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, fat in the artery walls, and obesity are causes of dementia. However, it can be genetic as well. Other risk factors include late-life depression, poorly controlled diabetes, and smoking, which are responsible for Dementia.  

 Types of Dementia 

Following are the various types of Dementia:   

 1. Alzheimer’s disease 

It is the most common type of dementia. This disease begins with short-term memory loss. This type of dementia causes patients to repeat things or go back to earlier times. Their ability to remember the present-day events becomes increasingly difficult, and later they may not even recognise their spouse.  

2. Lewy body dementia (LBD) 

It is a common type of progressive dementia. This condition is quite treatable; early dementia diagnosis can greatly improve the quality of life. However, the symptoms are changes in behaviour and may even affect autonomic processes such as bowel and bladder control. 

3. Vascular Dementia 

It is caused due to damage to blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. All the treatments focus on underlying conditions to reduce the risk of brain damage.   

Carotid endarterectomy and angioplasty are two of the most common surgical procedures to improve blood flow in the carotid arteries, which run from the heart to the neck. These procedures can improve blood flow and can be life-saving. 

 4. Mixed Dementia 

It refers to suffering from combinations of diseases such as Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Medical scientists are still researching the causes of this type of dementia.   

 5. Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) 

It is a condition in which the brain fails to function properly, leading to the loss of memory, thinking, and problem-solving. Symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the disease. Although there is no single known cause of FTD, it is known to be highly hereditary.  

Different Stages of Dementia  

In this section, we have enunciated the different stages of Dementia with the symptoms attached to each stage.   

Early Stage  

In the early stage of Dementia, a patient loses memory, has trouble recalling names, and has difficulty putting things in order. And you may find them misplacing things. In the early stages of these diseases, family members fail to recognise the symptoms as they are not so evident. This stage lasts anywhere between 2-7 years, depending upon the patient. 

Middle Stage  

Brain damage gets severe at this stage. The disease spreads to other parts of the brain. The already damaged areas of the brain become more affected, causing relatively more evident symptoms.  

Memory loss becomes severe,  it becomes difficult to concentrate, work efficiency is decreased, there is fearfulness or unwillingness to travel alone, withdrawing from friends, requiring assistance in dressing, bathing, and lavatory. Some dementia patients may forget their own date of birth, phone number, address, and other such basic information.  

 Last Stage  

At the last stage, the person may lose the ability to react to the environment, control their movements, and lose bladder control. Some patients can speak but cannot express their feelings. Eventually, the person will require round-the-clock care, and the symptoms worsen with time. 

 Dementia Risk factors  

There are various things that can eventually lead to Dementia, some of them can be controlled, and some cannot. Factors affecting Dementia are as follows:   

Risk factors that are out of our control  

  • Family medical history: If any of your family members have been through Dementia, then you are more likely to develop such conditions. It’s a probability only; you may not get it.   
  • Age: After the age of 65, the risk of Dementia arises. Some people even show symptoms at the age of 45.   
  • Down syndrome: Some people with Down syndrome show early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  
  • Gender: A study suggests that women are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.   

Risk factors that can be managed 

  • Smoking: It increases blood pressure, which further causes dementia.  
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption causes brain damage, which may lead to dementia.  
  • Cardiovascular factors: It includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), fats build-up in artery walls, and obesity.   
  • Diabetes: Having diabetes increases the chances of Dementia.  
  • Depression: Late-life depression might contribute to developing dementia symptoms. Though not confirmed yet.   
  • Air pollution: Particles present in polluted air speed up degeneration of brain cells, which poses a higher risk of dementia.  
  • Irregular sleep: It is deemed that people who have varying sleep patterns or suffer from insomnia are more likely to get dementia or other related health condition. 
  • Nutrition and Vitamin deficiencies: A lower amount of vitamin B-12, vitamin D, vitamin B-6, and folate makes you prone to Dementia. .   
  • Side effects of medicines: Sometimes, side effects of medication make your memory weak, which may lead to moderate to severe Dementia conditions.  

Treatment for Dementia  

There are several treatments available, ranging from medications and surgeries to therapies and counselling, depending upon the health condition of the patient and severity.    

The most common treatment is cognitive stimulation therapy. Cognitive stimulation therapy involves structured activities to help your loved one remember their past. It helps improve a person’s memory and helps them deal with difficult situations.   

The activities should be relaxing and pleasant to avoid anxiety and depression. This therapy is best used for individuals with mild to moderate dementia.  

Dementia Prevention 

Exercise and a healthy diet are two of the best ways to prevent dementia and delay the onset of symptoms. Both can slow down the cognitive degradation that can lead to dementia. Exercise stimulates the brain, maintains old neural connections, and makes new ones.  

Moderate activity, including walking and swimming, can help prevent the disease. Increasing your physical activity levels will improve your health and reduce your risk of dementia. A balanced diet and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are also considered as one of the best ways to prevent dementia. 

Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes both contribute to dementia risk. To reduce your risk, quit smoking, exercise, and eat healthily. All of these measures will help you maintain good health and delay the onset of dementia while lowering blood pressure.  

How to Care for a Dementia Patient at Home 

When caring for Dementia patients at home, there are many ways to help alleviate their discomfort. First, turn off all background noise. Then, talk in a calm voice and repeat your answers, if required. If a patient is having trouble speaking, consider offering them help to express pain.  

Also, give patients a warm hug or engage them in a favourite activity. You can also play soothing music or engage in a comforting ritual. If the patient is in the last stage, they might have lost motor controls, so always help them in bathing and lavatory. 

Patients often struggle with eating since it is a complex process that requires coordinated fine motor function and senses, so mealtime adjustments are necessary. Choose dishes and utensils that encourage independence. Make sure you use straws or cups with lids. Some people with dementia have difficulty with swallowing.  

The most important aspect of dementia patient care is food. It is recommended to serve small portions of meals at the gap of a couple of hours. This way, a patient can maintain a healthy weight.  

Read Also : What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s? 

Wrap Up 

Dementia is a serious condition that limits seniors’ ability to lead a normal life, but Emoha can help them lead a normal, healthy and uplifted life with its elder support services. Emoha can assist seniors in their daily activities, provide 360-degree health support,  aid with special attendants, and a supportive community through its mobile app, which can be downloaded from your device’s application store. Thus, Emoha focuses on improving the living standard of Dementia patients through constant engagement and medical support services. 

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Dementia Diaries – Managing Life with DementiaDEMENTIA CARE PLAN FOR ELDERLY

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Dementia? 

Dementia is caused due to degeneration of brain cells. Fats deposit on the walls of arteries, and high blood pressure also leads to Dementia.   

How to prevent Dementia? 

Dementia can be prevented with a proper nutritious diet, regular exercise, and sound sleep.   

Is Dementia treatable?   

Yes, in the early stages, Dementia can be treated, and a patient may live a healthy and sound life post-treatment.   

Does heredity influence Dementia?

Some dementia-like conditions are hereditary, but an individual can develop symptoms without genetic links. 

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s? 

Dementia is a generic medical term that refers to degradation in mental ability, which impacts daily life adversely. Alzheimer’s is a particular disease concerned with it.   

Is Alzheimer’s a type of Dementia?

Yes, Alzheimer’s is one of the types of Dementia.

Can Dementia be detected on a brain scan?

A brain scan or MRI is one of the ways to detect Dementia. It cannot be detected on brain scans solely; other tests are taken into account to reach a conclusion.   

Do beta-blockers cause dementia?

Probably yes. Beta-blockers may influence the risk of Dementia-like mental conditions.