11 Oct Causes of Dementia in Elderly – Know The Factors and Tips
Dementia – a condition causing loss of memory and cognitive ability leading to forgetfulness, and disrupting daily functioning life. Are you forgetting small things and details lately?
Do you feel like you’re forgetting important dates and events? Is your brain foggy and unable to interpret things? If these questions cause you to worry, visit the best psychiatrist in Patna, Dr. Vivek Pratap Singh.
Dementia is a varied condition consisting of various causes and medical conditions. Sometimes, Causes of Dementia in Elderly can be a symptom or a condition itself. It affects the thinking, and communication ability.
The main types of dementia are following
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mixed dementia
- Dementia with lewy bodies
- Creutz-feldt jakob’s disease
According to the part of brain affected, dementia can be divided into two types:
Cortical dementia affects the cerebral cortex. This part is vitally important for memory and language. This leads to loss of memory and inability to understand languages.
The two examples of this type are Alzheimer’s disease and creutz-feldt Jakob’s disease.
Subcortical dementia targets the cerebral cortex beneath the cortex. This type disrupts thinking and the speed of starting activities.
It leads to involuntary muscle movement and incoordination. The examples of this condition are Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
Some dementias progressively get worse due and are irreversible like
Alzheimer’s disease is due to gene mutation passed from parents to their child. The main gene apoE4 increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
They have plaques and tangles in their brains with a protein clump called beta amyloid. It has short term memory problems, difficulty remembering words, and affects the decision making abilities.
Lewy body dementia is known by accumulation of a protein called alpha synuclein. The condition can have alertness difficulties, hallucinations and confusion. Memory is not affected as severely as Alzheimer’s disease.
Frontotemporal dementia happens due to damage to the frontal and temporal sides of the brain and brain cells get killed due to protein clumps developing within it.
This condition has difficulty with speech and behavior. It even affects the personality and language centres.
Huntington’s disease is developed due to gene abnormalities and is most of the time passed from mother to daughters. It affects the brain;s nerve cells and spinal cord. There’s a decline in thinking and cognitive skills.
Repetitive traumatic brain injury damages a particular part of the brain due to repeatedly persistent trauma to one part of the brain seen in boxers, footballers, or athletes.
This leads to gradual damage over the years leading to symptoms like depression, memory loss, or speech impairment.
Dementia-like symptoms can develop due to fever or any infection like multiple sclerosis and other conditions affecting the body.
Thyroid gland abnormalities and other metabolic conditions like low blood glucose can lead to development of dementia.
If one is not getting adequate amounts of nutrients or vitamins, they might develop demn=entia. For example, people with reduced vitamin b1 levels which is also a symptom in alcohol disorder. Other vitamins like b6, b12, copper, or vitamin e also cause this.
Some medications Causes of Dementia in Elderly or interaction with other drugs leads to dementia.
The dementia has certain risk factors associated to it like
- After a certain age that is 50 – 60 years, the risk of developing dementia increases. Although depending on the underlying cause, it can also happen at a young age.
- Family history in dementia is a factor that almost always promises the condition develops in the next kin. However, sometimes even without a family history a person can have dementia.
- Metabolic illness like diabetes
- Alcohol use, history of drug abuse
- Brain injury
What is the main Causes of Dementia in Elderly?
Causes of Dementia in Elderly can result due to any abnormality in gene function, family history or traumatic injury to the brain.
Dementia is due to damage to the brain’s nerve cells, and depending on people it manifests differently.
It can be because of abnormal protein deposition in the brain or the part of the brain affected. Some of the medication can also lead to the development of this condition.
Vascular conditions disrupt the blood in the brain because of traumatic brain injuries like falls, concussions, head trauma.
CNS system infections like HIV, meningitis. Severe alcohol use or substance abuse can affect the brain chemistry too.
Hydrocephalus, a condition characterized by fluid buildup in the brain can have dementia as a symptom. Dementia due to underlying medical condition are
- Hematomas that is blood clots beneath brain
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus, a commonly misdiagnosed condition manifesting as abnormal gait and dementia
- Metabolic disorders, vitamin b12
- Thyroid gland abnormalities
- Low levels of glucose
- HIV complications
The dementia symptoms can be following
- Memory issues like forgetting things where they were kept, or asking again and again due to the inability to retain the information.
- Communication problems
- Getting lost due to forgetting directions
- Inability to perform tasks like paying bills, cooking, day-day functions
- Confused and uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situations
- Withdrawal on getting scared
- Difficulty speaking the right words
- Repetitive actions or speech
- Leaving items in unusual places and forgetting about them
The physical symptoms of dementia are anxiety and depression on not remembering things and events that took place in their past life.
They experience confusion and apathy. It gets difficult for them to adapt to new changes and get agitated because of the same.
What are the warning signs of dementia?
The sudden worsening of Causes of Dementia in Elderly manifests as the inability to perform activities they had no issues with before.
They get disoriented to time and place leading to getting lost in the middle of the street without knowing how to get back home.
The people living with dementia make impaired judgment such as not knowing when one needs medical attention.
They might have problems with learned memory regarding how to use a calculator or not knowing how to speak the right words.
Dementia in early stages might not show any symptoms or will only show mild decline that is forgetfulness to only an extent that doesn’t disrupt day to day functions.
Although, slowly and steadily it develops with changes in their reasoning, thinking ability.
This then develops to a stage where they forget recent events in their life, forget the grandchildren’s name. People with dementia with moderately severe decline can even get confused about the time or day of the week.
They will require assistance with packing clothes and daily chores.
With severe decline, they might forget their partner’s name, will need help going to the bathroom, taking a shower and eating food.
Gradually, they reach a stage where they can’t seem to talk about their thoughts and constantly stay in bed. Sometimes, they only talk about particular events and don’t remember what happened after that.
They will have trouble remembering their close friends, relatives, and family.
The dementia can be diagnosed clinically and with the help of some tests and questionnaires. The patient’s history and physical exam can reveal what is going on with them.
The tests might include like
- Blood chemistry
- Brain ct or mri
Diagnosing dementia, certain criterias are used
- Impaired orientation
- Motor skills and function
Sometimes, the physicians might even ask some questions to get to know what stage you are on regarding the dementia decline. The answers you give to their questions will determine your treatment and condition.
As of now, there is no cure for dementia. If the underlying condiiton is reversible, treating it can reverse the dementia symptoms.
But, if the condition is irreversible, there are only medications available for symptomatic relief. There’s no phase the patients will reach where they will be free of the diaease.
For example, Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and medications used for symptomatic relief are
Cholinesterase inhibitors are used for Parkinson’s disease.
Other lifestyle modifications, that the patients can apply in their life are
- Healthy diet
- Regular workouts
- Compliant with medications as prescribed
- Regular sleep schedule
- Emotional support from loved one’s
How to prevent dementia?
Due to the gene mutation and environmental influence, there’s no way to ensure one won’t get dementia. However, there are some ways to prevent th e secondary causes
- Regular exercise and workout keeps the body active and healthy. It might delay the onset of dementia and reduce its effects.
- Doing activities that refreshes the mind and soul activity chas shown to reduce dementia effects. Reading, solving puzzles, chess, and word scrabble are some of the activities that will keep the brain busy and working.
- Smoking has grave effects on not only the body but brain too. Smoking cessation has so many benefits one can’t even count. Smoking in the middle ages doubles the dementia risk.
- Vitamins are important sources of nutrients for the well-being of the body. One of them is that reduced vitamin D levels have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are still working on the correlation but in the meantime it’s better to increase its levels if you are deficient.
Dementia is a condition that sucks the life out of an individual. It affects the family making the person dependent on them for their daily chores.
If you or your loved one is suffering from this condition, visit the nearest neuropsychiatrist in Patna, Dr. Vivek Pratap Singh.