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Dementia Stages, Information, Facts

Dementia is not a disease, but a group of symptoms that affect an individual’s intellectual and social abilities to a great extent. Most of us experience some amount of memory loss as a normal part of the ageing process. However, the overall impact of dementia can be severe enough to interfere with a person’s day to day activities. This problem is a lot more common than most people realize. Dementia is quite a serious condition, which could lead to severe complications.
While there is no cure for it, it is important for patients to undergo treatment, to slow down and minimize the development of the symptoms. There are 3 distinct dementia stages; the symptoms and cognitive decline for each stage varies significantly.

In the first stage of dementia, the patient become aware of the fact that he/she does not remember or recall things the way they used to, in the past. They also manage to cover any lapses in their memory during this stage. Many of the dementia patients manage to keep themselves on track by improving their organizing skills, like making notes and writing things down. In the second stage, the confusion and memory lapses become more evident and are noticeable by family, friends and close associates. They usually have the most trouble with their short-term memory and may ask repetitive questions. The ability to manage the mundane tasks of everyday life also gets affected. Some people may also become a tad sloppier than before. Social withdrawal is a common occurrence in this stage.

In the third stage, the cognitive disability reaches its peak and is easily noticeable by anyone who speaks to the patient for more than a minute or so. Communication in this stage may also be limited. Patients require daily or rather constant supervision, or else they may harm themselves. Simple activities like dressing up and bathing could also be difficult for them. While anyone can suffer from Alzheimer’s, this condition is more prevalent in those people who have a family history of this problem. Unfortunately, Even though this condition is so widespread, there are several people who do not have an adequate amount of dementia information. People who are at a high risk should make it a point to learn as much as they can, preferably from a medical health care provider.

Dementia Causes

There could be several different causes of dementia in elderly people, apart from age. However, in many cases, it may not be possible to identify the factors that lead to the condition. Given below are some of the most common dementia causes: 
  • Alzheimer’s disease: More prevalent in men and women who are over the age of 65, this condition is the cause of Alzheimer’s dementia. The disease is progressive and can take seven to ten years to show a decline in cognitive abilities. The tangles and plaques that develop in the brain are the main causes of Alzheimer's dementia.
  • Lewy Body dementia: Studies indicate that this form of dementia, caused by Lewy bodies, is evident in around 20% of the people suffering from this problem. The main lewy body dementia causes are the clumps of protein that are formed in the brain. People who have this condition suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder because of which they act out their dreams, by thrashing about or kicking during their sleep.
  • Vascular dementia: This condition occurs as a result of brain damage that is caused by problems in the arteries that serve the brain or the heart. Some of the other possible vascular dementia causes include endocarditis (infection in the heart valve) and amyloid angiopathy (excessive buildup of amyloid in the blood vessels of the brain).
There is a lot of information on dementia causes and effects easily available through online resources, but it is best to consult a doctor for more details on this condition.

Dementia Symptoms

The symptoms of dementia may vary, depending on the cause and the type of dementia that affects a person. Progressive dementia symptoms may vary a bit, from senile dementia symptoms. Moreover, the early signs of dementia can be quite subtle, which is why the condition can go unnoticed in the initial stages. However, as the problem progresses to the second stage, the dementia symptoms and signs become more severe and evident. Given below are some of the common dementia signs that are seen through the different stages:
  • Loss of memory
  • Communicating difficulties
  • Inability in learning, remembering or recalling new information
  • Difficulty in planning or organizing anything
  • Coordination problem and lack of proper motor functions
  • Changes in personality
  • Reasoning difficulties
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
However, the symptoms are likely to vary, based on the types of dementia that affects a person. People suffering from Lewy body dementia may show signs that are not evident in other cases, some of the typical lewy body dementia symptoms include:
  • Fluctuations between clear thinking and confusion
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Rigidity and tremors
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
Similarly, vascular dementia symptoms may also vary a bit. Some of the most common vascular dementia signs include:
  • Depression
  • Increase in the frequency of urinating
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Inability to take decisions
  • Decrease in the ability to organize thoughts and actions
  • Confusion
  • Wandering at night
  • Unsteadiness in gait
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty in communicating with others or analyzing a situation

Dementia Treatment

While there is no cure for the condition, patients are advised to undergo dementia treatment, so that the symptoms can be minimized and delayed. Although there is no standard treatment for this condition some of the drugs that can be prescribed by a doctor include:
  • Donepezil
  • Rivastigmine
  • Galantamine Hydrobromide
  • Memantine
There are many people who choose to try simple dementia remedies too, which usually include baking soda, sage tea, ginger, turmeric, lemon oil (inhaling) and almond extracts. However, there is no clinical evidence to prove the effectiveness of these remedies on dementia.

When it comes to the treatment for vascular dementia, the FDA has not approved any medicines as yet. However, there are several steps that can be taken to treat the condition. Given below are some of the steps that can be taken, to help delay the symptoms of vascular dementia:
  • Staying active and increasing the levels of physical activities
  • Eating a diet that is healthy for the heart
  • Socializing and forming a support group
  • Adopting relaxation and stress-relieving techniques
  • Giving up on unhealthy practices like drinking and smoking

How to Cure Dementia Naturally

Many people are known to consult health care providers, for a dementia natural cure. However, it is important to realize that natural remedies, like medication, can only help delay the development of symptoms to some extent; they cannot reverse the condition or cure it. Nevertheless, some of the most widely recommended natural remedies for dementia are:
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Gingko Biloba
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Huperzine A
It is also important for patients to follow a healthy and nutritious diet at all times. Given below are foods recommendations for the best dementia diet:
  • Seeds, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
  • Vinegar
  • Milk powder
  • Wheat germ
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fish
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Soybean and soy products

Before following a dementia diet or taking any home remedies, it is absolutely essential to consult a doctor. Also, dementia being a degenerative disease does not have a cure per se. Therefore, you must not get dejected or depressed when the above mentioned remedies do not show the results you expected.

What are Dementia Types?

Although some people claim that there can be several dementia types, medical health care providers classify dementia into two broad categories, i.e. cortical dementias and subcortical dementias.

Cortical dementias occur when there is a disorder that affects the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, which plays the important role in thinking capabilities, such as language and memory. One of the forms of cortical dementia is Alzheimer’s people suffering from this form of dementia usually show aphasia (inability to recall words and comprehend language) and severe memory loss. People suffering from this form of dementia usually appear senile. Some of the common senile dementia causes include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal lobe dementia to name a few.

Subcortical dementia takes place when there is a dysfunction in parts of the brain that are below the cortex. Therefore, usual symptoms of dementia, like language problems and forgetfulness are usually absent in this case. People suffering from subcortical dementia, caused by Aids Dementia complex and Huntington’s disease typically show changes in the rate at which they think and in their abilities to initiate any activity. One of the most common progressive dementia causes is Parkinson’s disease

It is also possible for some patients to suffer from multi-infarct dementia, where both the parts of the brain are affected.

Submitted on January 16, 2014