A dementia diagnosis is very common among elderly people. The symptoms include memory loss, which makes it difficult for these individuals to recall facts, events, people and even how to perform simple daily tasks.
Dementia is a medical condition that can affect every member of the family. In some cases, patients do not even recognize or remember the names of family members and close friends.
What Causes Dementia?
Many different things can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and short-term or long-term memory loss. Sometimes these conditions are caused by trauma earlier in life, such as a head injury caused by an accident or sports injury. In some cases, the condition occurs due to a stroke or brain tumor. Some research indicates that dementia may have links to high blood pressure.
When looking at patients who have high blood pressure, researchers found that scans revealed damage to the brain. The high pressure can cause scarring, which leads to dementia when the patient is older.
If the condition is caused by hypothyroidism or a vitamin B12 deficiency, the condition is preventable. Early diagnosis and treatment can correct the problem and eliminate symptoms.
Identifying the Symptoms of Dementia
Memory loss is the first and most obvious sign of dementia. Patients with this condition may become unable to complete simple tasks, have difficulty understanding certain words, and suffer from the lack of ability to make simple decisions. Constant supervision is necessary because patients who go out alone tend to get lost and are unable to find their way home.
Mood swings and personality changes are common in patients with dementia. Patients may be happy one minute and angry or sad the next moment with no signs of what caused the mood shift. Patients with advanced stages of the disease are unable to care for themselves and do not recognize family members or remember their names. Family members suffer as they watch their loved ones struggle to retrieve memories about people, places, and events.
Dementia Diagnosis: How Does a Physician?
The first step to diagnosing dementia involves reviewing the patient’s medical history. The physician will ask the patient if any other family members suffer from the condition. Individuals with a family history of dementia are at high risk of developing the condition themselves. The physician will also conduct a series of memory tests to evaluate the extent of memory loss. The results of these tests will inform the physician if the memory loss is within a normal range for the patient’s age group.
Additional tests are necessary if the medical professional determines that the patient’s mental capacity is impaired. The physician may order a brain scan or MRI to search for brain tumors. The physician will also check the blood and rule out infection or a thyroid problem as the underlying cause for the problems the patient is having. If images of the brain indicate the organ has become smaller, the patient likely has dementia.
Ways to Prevent Dementia
Prevention is important for individuals who have a history of dementia in the family. Older individuals with a family history of dementia should make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid stress whenever possible. One way to keep the brain sharp is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Patients should avoid seclusion and stimulate the brain to improve mental health.
Patients can participate in a variety of mental activities to stimulate brain function. Playing chess and solving crossword puzzles offer great ways to exercise the brain. Research shows that keeping the brain active with puzzles or other problem-solving activities is good for mental health.
Eating certain foods, including whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat and fresh fruits and vegetables can lower the risk that an individual develops dementia. The omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish can also play a role in preventing the onset of dementia.
To avoid the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, individuals, especially those with a family history of the disease, should adopt a healthy lifestyle. In addition to eating healthy foods, it is important to exercise regularly to stay physically fit. Finding the time to relax and rejuvenate the body is crucial to overall health. Learning how to release stress, even under the most trying conditions, is necessary to avoid a variety of health problems.
The medical industry currently has no cure for dementia. Physicians can merely treat symptoms and do their best to educate patients on effective ways to avoid developing the disease. Professional caregivers with experience caring for patients with dementia can help families who have a loved one suffering from impaired mental capacity. If someone is your family suffers from dementia you should make sure the individual receives the proper care and treatment to manage the symptoms.