People who have dementia experience a gradual worsening in the ability to think clearly, and this affects their day to day life. Rather than being a medical condition in and of itself, "dementia" is a term used to describe a range of symptoms, including impairments in memory, reason and judgment, visual perception, communication, language and focus. The symptoms of dementia can be present with various medical conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease.
Causes and Types of Dementia
Dementia develops because of damage to the cells in the brain, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people assume that dementia is a natural part of getting older, but that is not the case. Though some age-related forgetfulness is to be expected, if it becomes serious and affects daily life, the person should be seen by a doctor and treated for a medical condition.
Some forms of dementia are irreversible. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, ischemic vascular dementia, Parkinson’s dementia and others. In some cases, however, the symptoms of dementia can be reversed. For example, some people begin to develop dementia symptoms because of their use of certain medications, emotional distress, nutritional deficiencies or other problems. Often, correcting these problems with the body and mind can lead to an improvement in the symptoms of dementia.
Treatment of Dementia
Following an overall healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and staying socially and mentally active are all steps that might play a role in preventing dementia. Once dementia is present, treatment may be able to keep the disease from progressing as rapidly. Medications are available to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other irreversible dementias. In addition, treating any other health problems that are present may help with dementia, as well.
SOURCES: Alzheimer’s Association; Family Caregiver Alliance
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