Encyclopedia

Dementia

Description

Dementia is a neurological disease characterized by a reduction or loss of thinking, memory and other mental abilities/cognitive functions such as judgement, thinking, behavior and speaking /.

This reduction subsequently affects the ability to perform daily activities such as driving, housework and even personal hygiene such as bathing, dressing, eating.

The disease most often affects the elderly and is called senility and is considered a normal part of the aging process.

But scientists are now convinced that this is not the case, but is caused by a number of concomitant diseases that can develop in adulthood or at a young age.

In some cases, the progression of the clinical condition can be stopped with the right treatment. But in others, it is permanent and the mental faculties of the sufferer gradually weaken.

The disease affects about 1% of people aged 60-64 years and from 30 to 50% of people older than 85 years. It is among the leading reasons for placing people in nursing homes.

What are the symptoms?

• Difficulty finding the right words when speaking, which can be compensated by a synonym or definition of the word;
• Forgetting names, meeting different people and whether the affected person has done something that he should have done or not, loss of belongings;
• Difficulties in carrying out usual activities – driving, cooking, household chores and controlling monthly expenses;

• Negative personality changes – for example, a sociable person becomes apathetic and quiet or vice versa;
• Uncharacteristic behavior;
• Mood changes – often with fits of anger or rage;

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• Behavioral disorders – paranoia and suspiciousness;
• Confusion, disorientation in an unfamiliar environment or place. The affected person may wander while trying to get home, for example.
• Difficulty or inability to perform several tasks at the same time;

What are the causes?

Head injury – associated with accidents such as car accidents; assaults such as gunshot wounds or beatings; or from activities such as boxing without protective equipment;

• Infections – inflammation of brain structures such as meningitis and encephalitis;

• Hydrocephalus – accumulation of too much fluid outside the brain;

Brain tumors – these growths can press on brain structures such as the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, which control hormonal balance. Direct compression of brain cells by the tumor and their damage is also possible.

• Metabolic disorders – with diseases of the pancreas, liver or kidneys, it is possible to develop dementia due to a disturbance in the balance of salts in the body such as sodium and calcium and other substances such as glucose.

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• Diseases of the endocrine glands – for example, disruption of the balance between the secreting and releasing hormones of the thyroid gland, adrenal glands and pituitary gland;

Treatment of dementia

Many affected people in the early and intermediate stages of the disease can live and care for themselves.

• With regular visits from a relative or friend, they are able to live without constant supervision.
• Those who experience difficulties in self-care require at least a part-time domestic helper or carer;

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The most commonly prescribed drugs are:

• Cholinesterase inhibitors – tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and memantine;
• Antidepressants / anxiolytics – fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine;
• Antipsychotics – haloperidrol, risperidone and ziprasidone;
• Anticonvulsants – valproic acid, carbamazeline and lamotigrine;
• Stimulants – methylphenidate;

All of these drugs cause side effects. When prescribing the drug, doctors are guided by whether its benefits outweigh its harms. Adverse reactions are especially pronounced in elderly people.

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