The unique thing about dementia is that it is not a single disease. It is a general term - like heart disease - that defines a wide range of specific conditions. The conditions that fall under the umbrella of dementia are caused by abnormal changes in the brain.
These changes lead to a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive ability, that is severe enough to affect daily life and independent functioning. They also affect behaviour, emotions and relationships.
Because it can really affect the whole body and mind, it is a very uncomfortable condition to deal with.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60-80 per cent of all cases of dementia.
Vascular dementia, which is caused by microscopic bleeding and blockage of blood vessels in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia.
Dementia is often mistakenly called 'senility' or 'senile dementia', reflecting the once widespread belief that severe mental decline is a normal part of ageing. It turns out that this is not the case.
The number of people with dementia is set to increase dramatically in the coming years, and because there is still a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding dementia, it is important to shed some light on the subject.
In this article, we will look at the disease itself and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Nervous system – Nitric oxide is a cell signalling molecule that facilitates communication between cells.
In the nervous system, nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter involved in long-term memory and cognition.*
Disturbances in nitric oxide are implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. *Source: nitricoxidesociety.org
"When nerves stimulate different parts of the body, they do so by releasing a chemical, and the main chemical released by many nerves in the brain is nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is now widely known to improve memory and facilitate learning. This has undoubtedly been demonstrated in animals and humans.
What we have now observed is that in memory and learning disorders, and particularly in Alzheimer's disease, there is a deficit, even a marked deficit, in the production of nitric oxide in the areas of the brain that regulate memory and learning.
Early clinical studies show that if you stimulate nitric oxide production in the brain, you can restore memory and improve learning and learning ability.
So I think there is hope for anyone who suffers from memory and learning problems."
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage affects the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other.
When brain cells cannot communicate normally, a person's thinking and behaviour can be affected.
The brain has many different areas, each responsible for different functions (for example; memory or mobilty).
If cells in a particular area are damaged, that area cannot carry out its functions normally. Different types of dementia are associated with specific types of brain cell damage in specific parts of the brain.
For example, in Alzheimer's disease, high levels of certain proteins in brain cells make it difficult for brain cells to communicate with each other.
The area of the brain called the hippocampus is the centre of learning and memory in the brain. The brain cells in this area are often the first to be damaged.
This means that forgetting things is often one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Although most of the changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and get worse over time, thinking and memory problems can be caused by several factors. Some of these factors include:
There are different stages of dementia and symptoms and progression can vary from person to person.
In general, the stages of dementia are as follow:
It is important to note that not everyone experiences the same symptoms or progresses in the same way at each stage. The progression of dementia can be slow or fast and depends on several factors, including the patient's age, general health and the presence of other illnesses.
Because dementia is so difficult to treat, it is important that care for the elderly focuses on preventing dementia.
As you have read, there are several factors that can contribute to the development of dementia. By looking at these factors and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Research shows that people who get enough exercise are less likely to develop dementia. Exercise is thought to stimulate blood flow to the brain and the production of new nerve cell connections, thereby reducing the risk of dementia.
Take Recover-Me before bedtime.
This stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the brain. The production of nitric oxide in the brain stimulates and restores memory and improves learning ability.
It also stimulates blood flow to the brain by relaxing blood vessel walls. This is an effective way to combat vascular dementia.
Staying socially active stimulates the brain.
Join a card club, drink tea or coffee with the neighbours, do volunteer work, go to the library to read the newspaper, take the bus just as a nice ride, in short, mingle with people.
Dementia is a collective term for over 50 brain diseases with a combination of symptoms (a syndrome) in which the brain can no longer process information properly.
Alzheimer's disease is the best known of these. In addition, vascular dementia is common.
All dozens of different diseases have in common that they damage the brain. Which parts of the brain are damaged often differ from one disease to another. Especially in the early stages of dementia.
The first symptoms of dementia vary from person to person and from disease to disease. What is notable is that a person has recurrent memory complaints, behavioural problems and changes in character.
Below are the best-known symptoms:
Of all types of dementia, Alzheimer's is the most common.
The hallmark of this disease is that certain proteins, called plaques, clump together and become stuck in the brain. As a result, the brain cells can no longer pass messages to each other and eventually die. Whether these plaques are the cause of Alzheimer's is not yet scientifically established. But these plaques, combined with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, do constitute the risk factors for this disease.
Alzheimer's starts mainly with memory impairments in short-term memory. Certain things from childhood are still razor-sharp, but what happened yesterday is not. Important things like birthdays or the names of (grand)children can be forgotten. Storing new information becomes increasingly difficult.
In the beginning, the signs are often so subtle that they are not yet noticed. However, as the dementia process progresses, long-term memory impairments appear.
Problems in blood flow to the brain cause the disease vascular dementia. In one in six people with dementia, vascular damage is the main cause. This is when we speak of vascular dementia. In vascular dementia, the connection between nerve cells often breaks down because of poor blood flow, the brain cells do not receive enough nutrition and oxygen and can become damaged.
Symptoms of vascular dementia depend on which part of the brain area has been damaged. This disease therefore varies from person to person.
Thinking, speaking and acting are noticeably slower. Concentration also becomes more difficult, as does doing several things at once. There may also be physical symptoms, such as staggering or slower walk
The course of vascular dementia may be gradual or sudden. A person with vascular dementia may deteriorate suddenly due to a stroke or TIAs. If no new strokes occur for a while, a person may remain stable for a while.
A person with vascular dementia will gradually have more difficulty recalling information from memory.
In one in six people with dementia, vascular damage is the main cause. This is called vascular dementia. In vascular dementia, the connection between nerve cells often breaks down because of poor blood flow, so brain cells do not get enough nutrients and oxygen and can be damaged.
Problems with blood flow to the brain cause vascular dementia. This can happen as a result of a stroke where part of the brain is damaged, or as a result of damage to the small blood vessels in the brain. Vascular dementia can occur in combination with other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on which parts of the brain are affected.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include memory loss, confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding language, and problems with planning and organising. The symptoms of vascular dementia depend on which part of the brain is damaged. This is why the condition varies from person to person. Treatment for vascular dementia focuses on treating the underlying causes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Medications may also be prescribed to relieve the symptoms. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet, exercise and adequate sleep.
You may notice that you think, speak and act more slowly. It is also more difficult to concentrate and do several things at once. There may also be physical symptoms, such as staggering or walking more slowly.
Vascular dementia can develop gradually or suddenly. A person with vascular dementia may suddenly get worse because of a stroke or TIA. If there are no new strokes for a while, the person may remain stable for a while. A person with vascular dementia will gradually have more difficulty retrieving information from memory.
Early diagnosis of vascular dementia can help improve the prognosis and predict the course of the disease.
Vascular dementia can occur in combination with other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on which parts of the brain are affected.
Symptoms can be mild to severe and include:
Treatment of vascular dementia focuses primarily on treating the underlying causes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
It is also important to ensure a healthy lifestyle, such as balanced diet, exercise and adequate sleep. Early diagnosis of vascular dementia can help improve the patient's prognosis and better predict the course of the disease.
Early onset dementia is a stage when symptoms are not yet so severe that a person can no longer carry out daily activities, but there are signs of cognitive decline.
These symptoms may include memory problems, changes in personality and mood, difficulty concentrating and difficulty performing daily tasks. It is important to seek help from a specialist at an early stage to diagnose and monitor the course of the disease.
This way, timely treatment and care can be started to support the patient and those around them. It can also be very helpful for a loved one or carer to be well informed about dementia and how to deal with it to ensure the best possible life for the patient.
A person with dementia may feel confused and insecure in their head. He or she may not remember where they are or what they are doing. There may also be short-term memory problems, which can make it difficult for the person to remember new information.
People with dementia may feel they are losing control of their lives. This may be due to a decline in cognitive skills, memory loss or problems performing daily activities.
It is important for informal carers and caregivers to take into account these feelings of loss of control and do their best to involve the person with dementia in decisions about their daily routine and care plan. In this way, the person with dementia can feel that he or she still has a voice and control in their life, and this can help reduce stress and anxiety.
There are also several tools available that can help people with dementia maintain control and autonomy, such as calendars, reminder boards or electronic devices to take medication. It is important to integrate these aids into daily routines to help the person with dementia maintain their independence and control over their life.
The person may also have difficulty with communication or language comprehension and may have impaired thinking skills and planning activities. This can all be very frustrating for someone suffering from dementia.
It is important to understand that they are often unaware of their memory problems and therefore do not always understand why they feel this way.
There is evidence that listening to classical music can have a positive impact on people suffering from dementia. Listening to music can have a calming and therapeutic effect on people with this condition. Some studies have suggested that music therapy can help improve memory and mood in people with dementia.
This can improve the patient's sense of well-being and quality of life, as well as enhance their cognitive skills and communication. Classical music is often considered one of the most soothing styles of music, and can help to stimulate the brain and reduce stress.
Listening to classical pieces can make people with dementia feel more at ease and more relaxed. However, it is important to note that music therapy is not a cure for dementia and does not work for everyone. But it is an option to complement the treatment of dementia symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life.
There is evidence that interacting with animals can have a positive impact on people suffering from dementia. Animals, such as dogs and cats, can provide companionship and distraction, and can help reduce the stress often associated with this condition. Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression in people with dementia. Also, having a pet can help maintain a sense of meaning.
There are several games you can play with people with dementia, depending on their abilities and interests. Here are a few examples
Aggressive behaviour can occur in some people with dementia. This can be caused by various factors, such as frustration, anxiety, confusion or paranoia.
It is important to understand that people with dementia may express aggression because of their disorder and that they usually do not intentionally want to injure those around them. Dealing with aggressive behaviour in someone with dementia can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help.
First of all, it is important to remain calm and patient and not take the situation personally. It may help to distract or cool the person down by withdrawing from the situation for a while.
In addition, it may help to find out what is causing the aggressive behaviour. For example, if the person is is anxious, it may help to speak reassuring words and try to allay the anxiety.
It is also important to seek professional help if the aggressive behaviour is severe or repeated. A doctor may prescribe medication or offer other treatment options to help the person deal with their emotions and behaviour.
If your mum or dad who has dementia is not feeling well, they may feel confused and anxious. This can raise many emotions and questions. It is important to realise that you are not alone and that there is support available.
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