What Is Dementia?

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Senior woman with dementia

Dementia is not a disease, but rather a general term referring to its collective of symptoms. These symptoms often include the hindrance of cognitive functions of memory, thinking, perception, problem-solving skills, and language. The absence of these substantial cognitive functions can cause an overwhelming turmoil in the daily life of not only a patient with dementia, but also their families and caretakers. Often, the misconception is that dementia is a disease and is a natural stage in ageing, but in reality, the symptoms of dementia are a result of the various diseases that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke victims. To simplify, disorders categorized under “dementia” are a result from abnormal brain conditions and cause a decline in an individual’s mental ability to the point that it interferes with daily life. Dementia triggers one of the main causes of disability and dependence among older people. The large impacts of dementia in the community can be perceived on physical, psychological, social, and economic viewpoints.

Over the years, the number of patients developing dementia has sharply increased and it’s more commonly seen in the older group of individuals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 50 million people live with dementia worldwide and an estimation of 10 million cases evolve annually. While dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, it can also affect younger people as well. Early onset dementia can affect people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dementia start becoming noticeable when once-healthy nerve cells’ begin to lose their functionality, resulting in the loss of connection with other brain cells. While losing nerve cells is a natural stage of ageing, individuals with dementia experience a greater loss of these cells. Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that the symptoms gradually worsen as time goes on. When a nerve cell is lost, it won’t function again. As more cells die, the brain begins to shrink. However, dementia impacts people differently depending on the divert individuals and their personality before being affected by it. In order to understand the signs and symptoms linked to dementia, they are divided into three stages:

Early Stage

The early stage is often overlooked or vague, as dementia onset is gradual. Common symptoms of the early stage include frequently forgetting items, losing track of time, and not knowing their location or path. 

Middle Stage

As the symptoms progress gradually to the middle stage of dementia, they become clearer and more alarming. Becoming absent-minded and forgetting names, becoming lost at home, facing severe difficulties in communication, needing help with personal care, and experiencing frequent behavioral changes that can escalate to aggression are often the symptoms experienced with the middle stage. 

Last Stage

The final stage of dementia is an obvious message that conveys that the individual is clearly in need of dependence due to their disabilities. This is medical care should be considered. The symptoms include: hardly recognizing family members and friends, unaware of time and place, increasing the need of assisted care, and facing difficulty in walking. 

Brain model

Diagnosis of Dementia

There are no tests available for patients with dementia. In addition to physical examinations, laboratory tests, and characteristic changes associated with day-to-day functions, physicians must carefully view the patient’s medical history for diagnosis. While medical experts can rather easily determine whether or not a patient has developed dementia, symptoms can become vague as brain changes of various types of dementia can overlap. 

Treatment and Care

Despite the fact that there is no cure to dementia, there are several methods of supporting and improving the lives of individuals with dementia. At Glen Park Healthy Living, we provide a Dementia Care Specialty Program and offer services which focus on the uniquely changing symptoms and side effects of dementia, such as communication, physical and cognitive assets. 
Our team of medical experts are ready to potentially satisfy the personal  needs of the patient in the safest and most comfortable environment. The healthcare program prioritizes preserving the patient’s dignity, reducing the effects of impairments, encouraging participation in activities, maximizing wellness and inclusion in the senior living community, reducing environmental barriers, and securing personal safety.