Types of dementia, characteristics and symptoms

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Types of dementia, characteristics and symptoms
Types of dementia, characteristics and symptoms

Dementia is a group of brain disorders that cause memory problems and negatively affect thought processes. Some of the cardinal signs of dementia are cognitive decline and memory loss, which can affect daily activities, thinking, remembering, orientation, language, calculation, and judgment.

Dementia is not part of the natural aging process. It affects between 3 and 11% of the world's population and elderly people between 65 and 69 years of age. Hereditary dementia is quite rare, but possible. There is also childhood dementia.

For most people, Alzheimer's disease is the most well-known such condition. But it is not the only one. There are several types of dementia. Who are they?

Types of Dementia

Some of the most common types of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy disease, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies.

70-80% of dementia patients have Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's, the chemical structure of the brain changes, causing brain cells to die.

Vascular dementia is caused by brain cells dying due to lack of oxygen.

Degeneration of nerve cells caused by the presence of small spherical structures in these cells known as Lewy bodies also causes dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is a degeneration of the front or temporal lobe of the brain.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of dementia is based on the patient's behavioral symptoms as well as scales to assess cognitive abilities and mental status. There is currently no known cure for these conditions, but their progression can be slowed with medication and some experimental therapies.

Risk Factors

Risk factors predisposing the brain to degenerative changes are diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, stroke, heart problems, depression.

Physical activity, social interactions and mental activities can help prevent the onset of dementia.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

Forgetting things, losing track of time are the earliest signs of dementia. Then come the difficulties in communication, the inability to observe personal hygiene, behavioral changes occur in the middle phase of the disease.

Difficulty walking, difficulty in naming relatives, complete dependence on them and inactivity, standing in one place and looking at one point occur in the late stage of the disease.

Patients develop behavioral abnormalities such as overexcitement, hallucinations (auditory, visual), even delusional beliefs and fears.

In the middle phase, conditions such as impulsivity, hypersexuality, hyperphagia (strong hunger) and aggressive outbursts are possible.

It is very characteristic of patients with dementia to lose their geographical orientation, even when they are near their home, where the surroundings are completely familiar. In many cases, they suffer from apraxia (loss of the ability to move purposefully) and agnosia (loss of the ability to recognize).

Approximately 2/3 of patients with dementia of any form develop behavioral problems with a range of symptoms that include anxiety, depression, aggression and disorientation.

Many of them experience executive dysfunction that prevents them from doing the tasks the brain has to solve. Therefore, patients cannot make a decision that prevents them from planning their tasks.

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