Getting older? Feel like you’re beginning to forget a bit too often? For some of us, as we age, we may be beginning to fear the inevitable. Slower motor skills, memory lapses, physical degeneration etc, are all symptoms of that natural process known as ageing. Know for certain that this is actually normal. For some of us it may be stress or anxiety, – which certainly shouldn’t be taken likely- but if you’re over the age of 65 you should probably get checked out by your doctor for dementia.
As we age, our reactions to stress and anxiety, different types of medications or other potential pre-existing conditions can affect memory. Nevertheless, early screening is critical, especially given the mounting evidence that early treatment can lead to substantial success in reversing and even preventing dementia.1
One of the major misconceptions about dementia is that it is a natural part of ageing…WRONG! That’s not the case. Dementia is a category of neurodegenerative diseases which can have extremely negative effects on one’s daily life. It doesn’t only affect your memory, it can also affect speech, the way you think, and your behaviour; even the way you act toward your loved ones.
What is dementia
According to the WHO dementia is “a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities.”2Dementia isn’t one specific disease. It can be described as a collection of symptoms associated with a decline in thinking skills and memory.
According to the NHS, the following are brain functions affected by dementia:3
- Memory loss
- Thinking speed
- Mental sharpness and quickness
- Difficulties carrying out daily activities
Types of dementia
Dementia can be split into two groups depending on the part of the brain that is affected:
- Cortical Dementias – this takes place due to issues with the cerebral cortex. In this category of dementia, people usually suffer from extreme forgetfulness and problems with speech language.
- Subcortical Dementias – In these cases, the patient is usually suffering from problems with the part of the brain beneath the cortex. Speed of comprehension and the inability to start activities are usually the main characteristics involved.
More specifically, the most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimer’s disease
Most commonly misused interchangeably with the term dementia, alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prominent and prevalent forms of dementia. It accounts for some 60% of dementia cases.
- Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is a cognitive impairment caused by damaged blood cells in the brain. It can be caused by vascular disease or severe strokes over a period of time.
- Lewy body disease
With lewy body disease abnormal clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein develop inside nerve cells. This could result in decreased spatial awareness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and performing otherwise normal daily tasks.
- Frontotemporal dementia
This form of dementia involves damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain. Frontal lobe damage is displayed mainly in behavioural symptoms while temporal lobe damage may become evident in language difficulty.
Living with dementia
Many people usually ask the questions: How to prevent Alzheimer’s? Or how to prevent dementia? Are their dementia prevention supplements? Maybe a change of diet? The reality is, even the most qualified researchers and medical practitioners would be hard-pressed to give you a definitive answer. What’s most important is to catch the early signs of dementia as soon as possible so to at least manage the symptoms. Although not a replacement for visiting a GP, a dementia test online can be a good way of evaluating your memory.4
It’s critical to be able to at least manage the symptoms. Most likely the burden of dementia usually rests on the surrounding loved ones and family members who have to deal with the heartache of seeing the mental degeneration of their loved one.
However, there are ways in which dementia can be managed (depending on the exact nature of the case) and therapies for coping with symptoms.
Tips for dealing with Dementia:
- Set a positive mood
- Communicate in simple terms
- Be direct
- Make daily activities manageable
- Be patient
Is it possible to prevent dementia?
A recent article by the UK Express provided an optimistic view of the future of treatment and potential cure for dementia.5 Could it be possible for there to be a cure for dementia? It will take some time before this dream becomes a reality. We all should, however, all be hopeful.
As for now, we’re limited to more lifestyle treatments for preventing dementia.
Tips on how to prevent dementia naturally include:
- Learn a new language
- Stay physically active
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol to a minimum