What Is Dementia
“Dementia is a degenerative neurological disease that is characterized by progressive loss of memories and/or cognitive abilities.”
The disease does not manifest itself overnight. The progression to disease is gradual over the years. With the passage of time, it begins to worsen and ultimately the patient completely loses their memories.
The loss of memories is so profound that the patient finds it impossible to recognize their own family members, spouses, siblings or children.
Other symptoms include the loss of ability to think and understand. The cognitive ability of a human is undeniably the greatest of human abilities. Patients suffering from Dementia eventually lose their following cognitive abilities:
- Ability to comprehend and understand language and emotions
- Ability to speak properly and convey emotions
- Ability to think and take decisions
- Ability to behave in a normal way
- Ability to perform normal daily life tasks such as putting on clothes, holding a fork, chewing food, going to the bathroom etc.
- Ability to recognize themselves in the mirror or even their loved ones
What causes Dementia?
Dementia is caused by a neurological defect in the brain. The brain is the cognitive centre of the body. It is the brain that decides the functions of every single organ of the body. The disease is primarily caused by Neurological deficit or vascular deficit in the brain.
The symptomatic pathology of the disease includes:
- Hypoxia or Insufficient oxygen supply to brain cells leading to Oxidative distress
- Death and degeneration of neurons in the different parts of brains such as frontal-temporal regions (both regions are involved in the formation of memories)
- Insufficient blood supply to brain cells
- Protein clumps or aggregation present at different neuronal endings. These proteins inhibit the transfer of neuronal signal from one part of the brain to the other.
- Injury or trauma to the brain such as in the case of Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Predisposing genetic factors such as the presence of the disease in the family
- Presence of concomitant neurological diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s disease etc.
What should you not say to someone with dementia?
Since the disease is in fact about losing the memories and the ability to understand and make a decision. Therefore, it is impertinent that those around the patient must take care of some behavioural ethics. These ethics make a huge difference in the progression of the disease for the patient.
Worsening of disease should be expected if the caretaker or the family members of the patient does not comply with the following rules and regulations.
- Do not try to reason, argue or enforce the patient
- Do not try to remind them of bitter and sore memories, such as a failed marriage or the loss of a parent/child/loved one.
- Do not expect them to understand and comprehend your language or a certain situation
- Do not try to remind them of the things they can’t remember from a specific time in the past
How to prevent Dementia?
Since Dementia may be caused by many contributing factors, therefore, the answer to the question is in fact multi-fold. It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what can cause the onset of memory loss, Alzheimer’s or Dementia. However, monitoring the retrospective data from the different patients have enabled the health professionals to narrow down a list of factors that can help prevent the onset of the disease.
Some of these factors are as follows:
Healthy And Nutritious Diet
The human brain does not require an excessive amount of fats, proteins or carbs to function properly. However, consumption of certain foods on a daily basis for a long period of time can delay the onset of disease. These foods include:
- Omega- 3 & 6 rich foods such as fish oils, chia seeds, avocados, almonds, walnuts etc.
- Berries such as strawberry, raspberry etc. have proven benefits in the maintenance of cognitive behaviours and abilities.
- Turmeric is rich in curcumin and demethoxycurcumin. Both these compounds help prevent oxidative stress on the brain. Oxidative stress and hypoxia are the leading cause of dementia esp. in post-trauma patients.
Exercise And Weight Maintenance
Healthy weight is that which lies in the range of normal BMI. Obesity increases the chances of cardiac arrest, diabetes and liver disorders. Although these diseases don’t directly affect brain functions. However, an insufficient supply of oxygen and healthy nutrients to brain neurons for a long time can initiate neuronal death. The result can be sudden or chronic forgetfulness.
Lancet Report On Preventing Dementia
Lancet report was commissioned and published in the Lancet medical journal. This report analyzed the data obtained from multiple dementia patients. The report concluded that nearly 30-35% of cases of dementia are actually preventable. These cases all had a few aspects in common that might have contributed to the onset of dementia.
Some of these factors are:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Obesity and weight gain after 40 yrs.
- Inactivity or jobs with less physical activity
- Not maintaining a healthy exercise routine
Although, there are some cases where none of these factors can be found. However, scientists suggest that preventing all or some of these factors can help prevent the onset of disease.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s lie in the category of incurable diseases. Multiple types of research are being carried out to understand more about diseases. The belief that ‘something is better than nothing’ is essential when dealing with these patients. Following the doctor’s directions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help manage the symptoms of the disease. Dementia is a scary and horrible disease for both I-e. the patient suffering from it, and his family. Let us all work as a community to help those suffering from this pain.