The loss of cognitive functioning such as thinking, remembering and speaking which affects the person’s life and activities is called Dementia. Dementia affects people differently. Some people are so severely affected by dementia that they cannot control their emotions and their personalities change. Although dementia is common in people more than 85 years of age, there are people over the age of 90 who are not affected by dementia.
There are several forms of dementia such as:
Alzheimer’s disease – It is the most common form of dementia. It makes up for around 60% of the diagnosis in the UK.
Vascular dementia – It is the second most common form of dementia. It is caused by small blood clots preventing oxygen reaching the brain tissue.
Frontotemporal dementia – The third most common form of dementia found in people usually in the age group of 45 to 65.
Mixed dementia – Mixed dementia is when you have more than one form of dementia. The most common being Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. This type of dementia is more common in people over 75 years of age.
Lewy body dementia – It is a progressive, complex and challenging condition which is believed to account for 10-15% of dementia.
Alcohol related brain damage – It is as the name suggests caused by excessive consumption of alcohol over a period of time. It can also be caused by vitamin B1 deficiency, toxic effects of alcohol on nerve cells, head injury and blood vessel damage.
Posterior cortical atrophy – It is a rare form of dementia that people develop in the age group of 50 to 65. People with posterior cortical atrophy often have sight related issues first rather than their memory.
Huntington’s disease – It is a genetic disorder caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4. The first sign of this disease is commonly seen in the age group of 30-50 years.
Parkinson’s disease – There is a loss of nerve cells in Parkinson’s which is important for the regulation of movement in the body. It is more common in people over the age of 50.
A surprising fact about dementia is that even younger people are afflicted by it. According to statistics, people as young as under 18 years of age are affected by Juvenile Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s accounts for a third of younger people with dementia1 and 10 percent of younger people have dementia with lewy bodies.
After the diagnosis through cognitive and neurological tests, neurological evaluation, brain scans, laboratory tests and psychiatric evaluation.
Quality of life can be enhanced for people living with dementia in the following ways:
Encouraging social interaction – daily social interactions can reduce agitation and pain and improved quality of life.
Music and art – music connects especially when verbal communication becomes difficult.
Physically active – being physically active helps improve daily activities like bathing, dressing and eating.2
Good nutrition – Tasty, nourishing food stimulates the person’s sense and appetite.
Games – Games such as crosswords, puzzles, trivia, Bingo, Sudoku keep a person suffering from dementia mentally active by increasing brain cells. Not only can these games keep a person suffering from dementia gainfully occupied and keep them busy for hours, it can also help improve their mental condition.
Dementia may not be able to cure or reverse but there are ways to cope with the disease to make it more comfortable for the people who are suffering it.
1. What is Alzheimer’s disease – Dementia UK
2. 6 tips to improve quality of life for people living with dementia (chartwell.com)