One of the greatest fears regarding the passing of the years is aging, loss of figure and aesthetic beauty, since it is synonymous that time is advancing and we cannot go backwards. But a great fear that is little talked about is the loss of people’s cognitive abilities, which is a possibility that isThis is a latent possibility if we fail to take proper care of our brain health.
Many individuals for various reasons have some kind of cognitive problem, difficulty or disease that prevents them from performing regularly in daily activities, as is the case of dementia. Although it is more common in older adults, it can also appear during the younger stages of life of those who suffer from it, having a degenerative effect that cannot be cured or reversed, but with proper treatment it can stop its progression or do so gradually.
Have you ever heard of dementia before? Did you think it was only limited to the elderly? If you still have doubts on this topic, we invite you to read the following article where we will talk about everything you need to know regarding dementia.
What is dementia?
It is a type of degenerative, chronic and irreversible deterioration of acquired higher cognitive abilities.This brings severe consequences to the normal performance of the person and in turn affects his or her quality of life. The areas that are damaged are those that are part of intellectual abilities (memory, intelligence, attention, problem solving, etc.).
It is common to hear that dementia is part of aging (especially senile dementia) because it is normal to see an elderly person who is absent-minded or somewhat lost in time space, but these symptoms are not necessarily part of dementia, since dementia is not exclusive to old age. Dementia can be part of other cognitive or neurological diseases such as mental retardation, Parkinson’s or brain injuries.
Types of dementia that exist
There are several ways to classify the types of dementia that exist, which you will learn about below.
1. Most representative dementias
These are diseases that, due to their degenerative effect, cannot be controlled because they will continue to progress over time, but their progression can be slowed down.
One of the most common types of dementia of all, its onset period is around 50-60 years of a person’s life, beginning with small information leaks or mental gaps that increase. Soon the condition takes over the person’s entire motor control, as well as his or her information processing system, memory search and identification of what is around him or her.
1.2. Dementia in Parkinson’s disease
It does not always happen, but there are cases where people suffering from this condition may develop symptoms of dementia. In this case, the damage is located in the areas of attention, motor control and information processing.
1.3. Dementias due to Lewy bodies
It is one of the most common causes of dementia in the elderly and is caused by the appearance of abnormal protein deposits in the brain. These disrupt and affect the functions of some neurotransmitters responsible for perception, thinking and behavior.
1.4. Senile dementia
Known in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as Major Neurocognitive Disorder, since it occurs exclusively in the elderly population at very advanced ages. In this case, there are audiovisual distortions, loss of one’s own abilities, mental confusion, memory loss and disorientation.
1.5. Frontotemporal dementia
Also called Pick’s disease, it consists of a degenerative alteration due to the presence of abnormal bodies located in the neurons of the frontal and temporal lobe regions. Largely affecting the personality and mood of the person, this dementia is common at any age, but generally occurs after the age of 45 years.
1.6. Vascular dementia
It is presented by the occurrence of several episodes or a stroke, which causes a major failure in the blood supply in a part of the brain and as a result, the deaths of neurons in the brain occur.
1.7. Binswanger’s disease
It is considered a subtype of vascular dementia that is caused by arterial hypertension and atherosclerosis, which degenerates the white matter of the brain due to the lack of blood flow and causes the death of neurons. This disease is also known as arteriosclerotic subcortical encephalopathy.
1.8. Multi-infarct dementia
This type of dementia is caused by the appearance of multiple infarcts or cerebral embolisms, which may be asymptomatic but still leave residual infarcted areas.
2. According to brain areas
In this classification, dementias are classified according to the brain area most affected by neuronal losses.
2.1. Cortical dementias
In this type of dementia, the area most affected is the cerebral cortex (outer layer of the brain), which is responsible for the most relevant processes of language and memory. Therefore, people with this type of dementia suffer from language comprehension problems and memory loss.
2.2. Subcortical dementias
In this case, the affected parts are those below the cortex, i.e., the innermost layers of the brain, which have the functions of thinking, mental agility, attention span and mood.
2.3. Mixed dementias
The conditions occur in both regions, which is why they are called corticosubcortical damage. These are the most common that manifest themselves in people, both for their symptoms, causes and affected regions.
3. Reversible dementias
This classification of dementia is due to dementias that may be caused by some disease, cognitive alteration, organic abnormality, metabolic disorder or substance use. For which, with proper treatment and a detoxification process, their effects can be reversed or more serious damage can be prevented.
As it is a degenerative disease, the origin lies in the deterioration or loss of nerve cells and neurological connections in the brain.. This damage to neurons is irreversible, but it does not happen suddenly, but over the years. This is why people have serious consequences with their abilities, since they cannot use them again or cannot do it in a functional way.
However, there are dementias, whose deterioration is caused by the consumption of substances and therefore, when the person stops consuming them, it is possible that they can stop the degeneration of neurons.
Symptoms of dementia
We must be very attentive to the symptoms of dementia because it often tends to be confused with some malaise caused by any disease or as a natural product of aging. So to be sure that the person has dementia, we must take into account that this is presented as a set of degenerative symptoms, therefore, the discomforts will be in different areas of the person’s development, as we will see below.
1. Cognitive alterations
This is perhaps the most notorious symptomatology, due to the interruption of neuronal functioning, wear and tear or direct death of the synapses. Causing the person to begin to have more and more frequent mental lapses until reaching memory loss, severe concentration problems, dispersion and continuous distraction, difficulty communicating verbally and maintaining fluency in speech, spatial disorientation, inability to solve problems and rationalize, difficulty with motor coordination.
2. Psychological changes
These are, in the same way as the previous symptoms, the most noticeable in people suffering from dementia, since it is a radical change in their personality and psychological sense. For example, they have sudden mood swings, have episodes of depression, irrational fear or anxiety, maintain inappropriate behavior, begin to have hallucinations or paranoia.
3. Interpersonal problems
Due to the accumulation of symptoms, the person finds it increasingly impossible to perform regular activities in society, such as keeping their job or interacting with their peers. They also begin to isolate themselves and avoid making contact with others because they cannot express themselves adequately through language.
4. Detention of independence
Finally, the symptoms not only affect the quality of personal relationships, but also affect personal independence. Because the person is unable to perform simple everyday tasks (tying shoes, brushing, dressing, cooking, bathing, etc.) or they become too complex to do, they tend to become temporarily disoriented and forget aspects of their own identity.
The treatment will depend largely on the level of dementia in each person.Thus, if it is mild and in its early stages, the progression of degeneration can be slowed down through medication and activities that help maintain mental agility, both with the intention of preventing the loss of cognitive abilities.
In the case of dementia due to substance abuse, the subject usually improves significantly when he or she completely stops consuming and begins his or her detoxification period. At the same time, it is possible to treat some of the damage caused by the onset of dementia due to brain damage or a disorder of the organism.
With the right information and attention to the person’s changes, dementia can be controlled or, in such a case, offer the patient a better quality of life.