The dementia is a term referring to the reduction of the operation of the intellect, which impacts significantly to daily tasks and affects a wide range of capabilities of the patient: memory, language, perception, reasoning … The main cause of this condition it is Alzheimer’s; a disease that represents 70% of total cases.
When a family member begins to have memory problems or we realize that some of their faculties have been impaired and they can no longer perform activities on their own that were not a problem before, several thoughts begin to crowd in our head. What is happening to him? Will you have senile dementia?
What is senile dementia?
Senile dementia is a condition characterized by progressive deterioration of cognitive functioning . Although initially the symptoms are very mild, as dementia progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for the patient to carry out basic activities, until they become completely dependent.
Causes of senile dementia
Senile dementia is not a disease in itself, as the Alzheimer’s Association explains , but a condition caused by other medical disorders, with Alzheimer’s being the most common of all. We explain them below.
- Alzheimer’s : Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes problems with both memory and character and behavior. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 70% of total cases. Some of the main symptoms of this disease are confusion, disorientation, and trouble carrying out daily activities.
- Disease Parkinson : This is a disorder that affects movement. It occurs when neurons do not produce enough dopamine . Symptoms appear progressively, generally on one side of the body, until they end up affecting both: tremor in the limbs and jaw, stiff arms and legs, slow movements, and problems with both balance and coordination.
- Huntington’s disease : An inherited disease characterized by degeneration of neurons in certain regions of the brain. The symptoms include both behavioral changes and abnormal movements: hallucinations, irritability, jerky movements of the limbs, unsteady gait … Dementia also occurs, which worsens slowly and progressively.
- Lewy body disease: is known as dementia with Lewy bodies to a disease in which abnormal structures known as Lewy bodies accumulate in certain areas of the brain. The most common symptoms are hallucinations, muscle stiffness, confusion, problems with movement, and memory loss.
- Frontotemporal degeneration: frontotemporal dementia is one that especially affects the behavior, personality and speech of the patient. It is a very rare group of disorders that occurs in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, as its name suggests. It is generally between 40 and 45 years old; patients show drastic changes in their behavior, showing an inappropriate attitude from the social point of view.
Phases of senile dementia
Senile dementia is divided into a total of three stages.
As its name suggests, it is the initial stage, in which the patient can lead a completely normal and independent life . He is able to carry out daily activities such as shopping or cooking, among many others, without any help.
Senile dementia begins to show itself in small details, the patient himself being fully aware of it; you notice that your memory fails at times, you forget both personal and professional appointments …
As the deterioration progresses, the person may begin to forget the names of their loved ones , as well as the place where they have kept everyday objects; It is also common that in normal conversations it is difficult for him to find the right words.
During this phase, the most common is that both the patient himself and his friends and family blame old age for these types of symptoms.
This is the second phase of senile dementia, in which the symptoms of the disease worsen; thus, in practically 100% of cases it is during the moderate stage when patients go to the doctor. Normally, it is the relatives who begin to perceive that something is not right, while the elderly try to hide it.
During the moderate phase, the following signs are common.
- The patient begins to show signs of disorientation in places that are close and familiar to him ; he doesn’t know what date it is either.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult for him to recall events that have taken place recently, such as a conversation the patient had just a few hours ago with a friend.
- His mood is increasingly negative; you feel discouraged and frustrated.
- His language begins to be confusing; the person with senile dementia fills the sentences with unnecessary words. So instead of saying “Refrigerator” you can say “That thing in the kitchen that is used to store food.”
- It is difficult for him to carry out daily activities , such as shopping or keeping bank accounts.
It is the last stage of senile dementia, the most advanced. The deterioration of the patient occurs by leaps and bounds, to the point of not being able to recognize close relatives or himself . Little by little the ability to communicate is lost. It is the ability to smile that is last lost, but it also ends up being caused by dementia.
Motor skills are also impaired , so that the sick person ends up being unable to walk. Another characteristic of this stage is the loss of sphincter control, as well as the loss of swallowing.
Most common symptoms
The symptoms of dementia encompass a large selection of aspects related to the mental functions of the patient. In general, this condition notably affects your personality, language, memory and thinking . In addition, it presents increasing difficulties to solve problems or make decisions.
As the disorder worsens, the symptoms are more severe. The patient gradually loses social skills due to drastic personality changes , which sometimes lead to inappropriate and aggressive behaviors in public. It also presents increasing difficulties to communicate.
Disorientation is one of the most common symptoms of dementia. Of course, the difficulty to memorize is one of the signs of this condition.
Another of the symptoms that occurs more frequently is the change in sleep patterns .
Treatment of senile dementia
Dementia currently has no cure. However, there are symptomatic treatments that slow the progression of senile dementia. Treatment consists of two broad categories.
On the one hand, the pharmacological . To date there are four drugs approved to treat Alzheimer’s; donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine, and memantine . They are used during the mild and moderate phases.
It is common for people with senile dementia, especially in the moderate phase, to suffer from depression . In this case, the pharmacological treatment consists of the administration of antidepressants; If the patient has aggressive symptoms, it can be accompanied by the administration of antipsychotics.
And, on the other hand, non-pharmacological treatment, which consists of different therapies that help slow down the deterioration of the person and significantly improve their behavior: music therapy , pet therapy, sensory therapy, physiotherapy …
Prevent senile dementia
There is no foolproof way to prevent senile dementia. However, there are a series of tips that help significantly to minimize risk factors.
It is very important to take maximum care of both physical and mental health . For this, it is essential to follow a healthy and balanced diet, with a high consumption of cereals, fruits, vegetables and fish. Regular physical exercise is also key.
Of course, to prevent as much as possible the diseases that give rise to senile dementia, it is advisable to control those disorders that pose a risk factor, such as diabetes . It is also advisable to control blood pressure and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.