What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for many types of cognitive impairment afflictions. People with dementia show a visible decline in focus, executive functions, memory, language skills, sense and coordination, and social skills. The decline often affects daily life and may even lead to personality changes, day and night reversals, hallucination and delusion.
A medical diagnosis of dementia is usually based on the “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM–5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Aptitude tests, CT scans, MRI and blood tests are also used to assist with medical diagnosis if specific symptoms indicate cognitive degeneration or other ailments.
Vascular diseases, depression, strokes and obesity are considered risk factors for dementia. Both physical and psychological well-being are vital for striking off dementia.
Find out some Symptoms of Dementia
- The most common form of cognitive degeneration, accounting for 50-70% of dementia cases; more common among females.
- Slow decline, most common early symptoms are memory loss, difficulties in remembering information and learning new things.
- The second-most common cause of dementia for people aged 65 or above, accounting for 30% of dementia cases; more common among males.
- Closely associated with strokes, heart disease and circulatory problems.
- The second-most common form of dementia among the population aged 35 to 75.
- The first signs are usually memory loss, difficulties in arranging everyday living, prioritisation of issues and emotion control.
- Non-hereditary, caused by the death of cells in the basal ganglia and a part of the brain called the substantia nigra.
- Possible symptoms include visual hallucinations, confusion, daily changes in attention and alertness, sleep disorders, frequent falls, poor judgement and apathy.
- A lack of vitamin B12, thyroid disorders, long-term alcohol abuse, neurosyphilis and brain tumours could also lead to a degeneration of cognitive functions
Aware of the Warning Signs
- Being apathetic
- Unwilling to learn new things
- Declining ability in planning or decision-making
- Accusing others of stealing misplaced items
- Forgetting recent issues
- Being confused about time and location
- Being angry and anxious
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Difficulty in adapting to changes
- Difficulty in grasping complicated concepts
- Being more subjective
- Repeating speech or gestures
- Unable to handle personal hygiene or manage dietary needs
- Experiencing hallucinations
Keep Track of Dementia Progress
Cognitive decline progresses in broadly three stages. It’s advisable to have professional help to evaluate this. The following can be used for reference.
|Symptom||Early stage * 1st - 3rd year||Mid stage *3rd - 8th year||Late stage *8th - 10th year|
|Deal with complicated matters unassisted, such as managing bank accounts|
|Return home from a familiar location|
|State the approximate date and time|
|Feel what’s happening around|
|Express one’s thought|
|Self-care in daily routine|
*the duration in each stage may vary depending on the quality of care.
You may be searching for treatments when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Appropriate treatment and personalised community support could improve the well-being of people with dementia. Treatments come in two forms: pharmacological interventions and non-pharmacological interventions. Treatment in the early stages can slow down degeneration. Medical and social welfare sectors agree that non-pharmacological interventions should be attempted before medication is prescribed to control emotions or distressing behaviour.
Improve communication and emotional well-being through socialising activities to maintain meaningful human relationships
Intelligent Stimulation Training
Improve focus, memory and skills with numbers, languages and problem-solving
Guide and remind the people with dementia to recognise things around them, including current date, time and location, to instill a sense of security and keep emotions stable
Recount stories from the past to make the people with dementia feel assured and supported, and reinforce long-term memory
Help the people with dementia relax and express their feelings through art and music, and boost their sense of satisfaction and confidence
Calligraphy, multisensory stimulation therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy and horticulture therapy
Drugs for people with Alzheimer's disease
- Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors or Cholinesterase Inhibitors, such as Donepezil (Aricept®), Rivastigmine (Exelon®) and Galantamine (Reminyl®)
- N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) Receptor Antagonists, such as Memantine (Namenda®, Ebixa®)
Drugs for improving behaviour or
- Anticonvulsants or Mood-Stabilizers
Drugs for non-Alzheimer's disease
- Antihypertensive drugs, diabetic and heart disease medications (for people at high risk of vascular dementia)
- Antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants (for people with vascular dementia to lower the chance of recurrent stroke)
- Vitamins and supplements (for people with dementia related to vitamin B deficiency)