Everything There Is To Know About Dementia

Everything There Is To Know About Dementia

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Contrary to popular belief, dementia doesn’t refer to a single disease. Thus, the question is, what is dementia? It is a general term that covers a myriad of specific conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. When the common term dementia is used, then it refers to diseases or conditions that are brought about by abnormal brain changes.

The changes that occur in the brain affect communication, memory, and thinking.

Dementia for a long time has been incorrectly known as senile dementia or senility. This term was misused to refer to the wrong belief that as we age, severe mental decline follows. The correct diagnosis will ensure that you or your loved one gets the right primary care physician near you.


Dementia occurs when you experience brain cell death and progressive cell death that comes with neurodegenerative diseases. However, what is not known for sure is if the death of the brain cells causes dementia or vice versa.

Although other conditions can cause progressive brain cell death, these are the instances seen in Alzheimer’s disease where dementia is caused by a stroke, head injury, or even a brain tumor.

Other factors that can lead to dementia are:

  • Reversible factors – These are thyroid abnormalities, depression, vitamin deficiencies, medication side effects, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Prion diseases
  • HIV Infection – HIV can damage your brain cells. But, it is still known how it destroys brain cells.

The different types of dementia are associated with specific types of brain cell damage in particular areas of the brain. The damage to the brain cells affects their communication with each other. This is what causes the cognitive and behavioral changes associated with dementia.

Different Types of Dementia

There are different types of dementia, including:

  • Multi-infarct dementia – This is commonly known as vascular dementia. Cerebrovascular diseases like stroke cause the death of the brain cells. The inhibited blood flow to the brain deprives the brain cells of sufficient oxygen supply.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – In this case, there are protein abnormalities that cause plaques in the brain cells that are dying. Then within the cells, some tangles form. Someone who has Alzheimer’s will have fewer connections and nerve cells. The brain size shrinks.
  • Mixed dementia – This type of dementia refers to two or three types of dementia affecting someone at the same time.
  • Lewy bodies dementia- This is a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by changes in a protein known as alpha-synuclein.

Common Dementia Symptoms

The symptoms listed below happens primarily because of memory loss. Possible symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Communication difficulty
  • Challenges in abstract thinking
  • Mood changes
  • Disorientation
  • Personality changes
  • Challenges in finishing familiar tasks
  • The condition gets worse when a patient grows older.


There isn’t a clear cut test that is used to determine whether you have dementia or not. Our doctors diagnose dementia using your medical history, laboratory tests, physical examination, and changes in thinking.

But if you have dementia, our doctors will quickly determine that, but the exact type will take a bit of time. This is because symptoms always overlap.

Treatment and Care

The cause of dementia will help determine the care or treatment to be used. It is important to note that in progressive dementias, like Lewy body dementia or Alzheimer’s, there is no cure yet. There are no known treatments that can stop or slow the progression of the degenerative dementias.

However, if reversible factors cause the symptoms of brain cell damage, then treatment may help stop further brain cell death.

The medication that exists right now can only improve the symptoms but not cure. For example, vascular dementia treatment revolves around reducing blood pressure and your cholesterol level. Also, preventing blood clots and keeping your blood vessels clear is part of the treatment.

In most cases, it is vital to look for a primary care physician near you because dementia can take a toll on an untrained caregiver. Trained physicians in Germantown Primary Health Care will try different approaches like:

  • Cognitive stimulation therapy – This involves participating in certain group activities that are designed to improve communication, problem-solving skills, and memory.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation – This type of therapy involves working with professional caregivers and loved ones in helping a patient learn to perform everyday tasks. This method aims at using the part of the brain that is still working to improve the ones that are not okay.

Dementia is a stressful disease and can change the mood around the home. Do not walk alone; contact a primary care physician near you.

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