What is Dementia?

Dementia is an illness that causes the brain cells to deteriorate and die faster than normal. It is not part of the normal ageing process and there is no medical cure currently.

Dementia leads to a decline in mental, judgemental, and behavioural abilities. This, in turn, often leads to memory loss, a decline of intellectual abilities, and personality changes. It can affect adults at any stage of life, but the incidence of dementia is more common in people over 65 years of age.

There are several types of dementia:

  • Alzheimer’s disease resulting from a combination of genetic and lifestyle risk factors
  • Vascular dementia (multi-infarct dementia) resulting from multiple brain strokes.

Different causes may lead to dementia. Vascular dementia can occur if the brain is exposed to multiple strokes. Also, some degenerative neurological diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and certain types of multiple sclerosis can also cause dementia. In addition, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and some central nervous system infections, such as meningitis, an inflammation of brain membrane can trigger the development of dementia.  

Dementia affects a person’s ability to live safely and independently, and the symptoms get worse with time. Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in mood, behaviour and personality
  • Difficulty completing familiar jobs
  • Difficulty tackling problems
  • Loss of interest in work and social activities
  • Memory loss that affects day-to-day performance
  • Disorientation
  • Poor judgement
  • Problems in communication

Some treatments and management can be used to alleviate symptoms and treat underlying causes of dementia. These include:

  • Appropriate care facilities
  • Behavioural therapy
  • Counselling
  • Eliminating alcohol
  • Medications to treat illnesses that trigger the onset of dementia

  • Decreased lifespan
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Increased risk of infections  of the body
  • Loss of the ability for social interactions
  • Loss of the ability to live safely and independently, and take care of oneself
  • Side effects of medications
  • Sleep difficulties

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