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Dementia - Cognitive Decline

Updated on June 13, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

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Dementia Facts

Dementia is a term for conditions and diseases that are characterized by a decline in a person’s language, memory, problem-solving skill and all other types of thinking skills. Dementia makes performing everyday activities very difficult and sometimes impossible. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease results in problems with the memory, behavior, judgment, attention, thinking, mood and abstract thinking.

The brain has neurons that communicate and connect at the synapses, which is the place neurotransmitters carry information between cells. The process is interrupted with Alzheimer’s disease, which will destroy the synapses and kill the neurons, damaging the brain’s communication network. There is no cure and these symptoms will get worse over time. Chronic stress accelerates cognitive decline and impairs memory function.

Alzheimer’s Disease Signs and Symptoms

There are some early signs of this disease, which increase over time and they include:

  • Loss of concentration - A person may lose their ability to even complete an easy project.
  • Forgetfulness - There may be unopened mail lying around and bills not paid.
  • Language problems - A person may lose their train of thought in the middle of a sentence.
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Loss of insight - A person may not understand even simple concepts.
  • Impaired judgment - This person may participate in risky behavior.
  • Mood and behavioral changes - Their personality may be quite different and they may wander away from home when the disease progresses.
  • Apathy and depression - They may lose interest in foods or not change clothing without being prompted and depression may be a serious problem

In addition to the behavior affected by brain changes there are other problems as well. Feelings of confusion or fear are not uncommon. Other illnesses can complicate medical issues for the patient with dementia, which may include new medications, pain, constipation, lack of sleep, problems with seeing or hearing.

There are studies that show people who are experiencing cognitive impairment are sometimes deficient in essential vitamins and nutrients. Scientists have found out that specific nutrients play an essential role in the brain’s cellular activity.

Late stages include a patient turning increasingly inward and needing assistance with almost all of their personal care. They typically need twenty-four hour assistance.

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Other Types of Dementia

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease there are several other types of dementia and they include:

  • Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, which is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain and it can be caused by atherosclerotic disease or a stroke.
  • Lewy body dementia is due to protein deposits in nerve cells, which interrupt chemical messages in the brain causing disorientation and memory loss.
  • Advanced Parkison’s disease patients may develop dementia and they have trouble with judgment and reasoning, plus they may have hallucinations.
  • Frontotemporal dementia is a dementia that affects the front and side parts of the brain that control language and behavior, (Pick’s disease).
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is very rare, and the symptoms vary with patients typically dying within a year of their diagnosis.
  • Wernicke’s disease or encephalopathy, caused by a lack of vitamin B1, which leads to bleeding in the lower brain areas.
  • Mixed dementia refers to a patient with more than one type of dementia. The combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type.
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) causes the brain to build up excess fluid in the ventricles and this disorder accounts for five percent of dementia cases.
  • Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder, causes dementia. Two types exist: juvenile and adult onset (starting in a person in their 30s or 40s), which can lead to dementia.

Recognizing The Early Stages of Dementia

Diagnosing Dementia

Doctors will order some testing that will measure thinking skills, such as reasoning, judgment, orientation, language skills and attention. Blood tests are often ordered to check for things that affect brain function, like vitamin B1, B12 or an underactive thyroid gland.

Brain scans may include a CT or MRI to look for evidence of a stroke, tumor, hydrocephalus or bleeding in the brain. A PET scan may be ordered as it shows patterns of brain activity, amyloid protein that is an indication of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Medications to Treat Dementia

There are several medications that treat dementia. Even though there is no cure for dementia there are medications that help treat the symptoms.

Cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne) and memantine (Namenda) treat the cognitive symptoms of confusion, memory loss and difficulties with thinking and reasoning because it boosts the levels of a chemical messenger that is involved in memory and judgment. Namenda may cause some dizziness.

Other medications may be prescribed for sleep, depression hallucinations, parkinsonism or agitation.

Improved cognitive performance may be helped with natural nootropics that are made of natural or synthetic vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, fatty acids and some herbal ingredients.

Phosphatidylserine has been shown to aid memory function in middle-aged or older adults. It helps rejuvenate brain cell membranes.

In Ayurvedic medicine bacopa has been used for centuries for its ability to enhance memory retention, to improve spatial learning and for its ability to receive new information about one’s environment, plus it helps reduce stress.

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Therapies

Occupational therapy may be ordered to help modify the patient’s environment to make it safer and to teach coping behaviors. Patients are also taught to simplify tasks.

Mayo Clinic also suggests other therapies, which include:

  • “Music therapy, which involves listening to soothing music
  • Light exercise

  • Watching videos of family members

  • Pet therapy, which involves use of animals, such as visits from dogs, to promote improved moods and behaviors in people with dementia

  • Aromatherapy, which uses fragrant plant oils

  • Massage therapy

  • Art therapy, which involves creating art, focusing on the process rather than the outcome”

In Conclusion

Dementia is a very difficult disorder to cope with for patients and their family members. There are day care centers for patients when all family members work or maybe the patient is too difficult to deal with around the clock. There are also nursing homes that specifically care for patients with any type of dementia. There are some medications and therapies that aid patients and family members.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG,

    I do not know if yagic Asana will cure or help dementia. I would try most anything if I started havIing dementia signs. I appreciate your comments, MG.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh emge 

    11 months ago from Singapore

    A very lucid exposition about a disease that seemingly is incurable. I remember attending the ashram of swami Shraddanand who mentioned the only way this disease can be arrested is through yogic Asana.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    11 months ago

    You're welcome.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert,

    It surely is a difficult disease. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    11 months ago

    Thank you for explaining this difficult condition.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi SDB,

    It is a heartbreaking disease. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Sonia DB profile image

    SDB 

    11 months ago from Australia

    Very helpful article Pamela, about a common and sad disease.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Devika,

    I always do a lot of research when I write a medical article to keep everything accurate and up to date. Thank you for your nice comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    11 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Pamela you r insight to Dementia is enlightening and important. I learned a lot form these facts and your thorough research

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Hasibul,

    Thank you for your comments.

  • Hasibul Islam Apon profile image

    Hasibul Islam Apon 

    12 months ago from People’s Republic of Bangladesh

    Wonderful article

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maria,

    I agree that dementia is very sad and extra training for nursing students is a good idea. I may check out "Still Alice". Thank you so much for your comments.

    Stay safe and heallthy. Love and hugs.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    12 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Pamela,

    Dementia may be one of the saddest diseases there is.

    One of the best books on the subject (fiction) is "Still Alice".

    This is an area that nursing students and nurses need much more training about. Many times our well-intended actions can be confusing and frightening to the person with dementia.

    Will be sharing this - thank you.

    Love,

    Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish,

    This is a sad disease. Your grandmother is an example of the heartbreak for the family also. I appreciate your comments.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    12 months ago from USA

    My grandmother is 90 and has dementia. She is in the hospital for another reason and they had to give her Ativan because she was extremely agitated. She was fearful they were doing to cremate her today.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Shauna,

    Your family has certainly had a difficult experience. Your description is like many others I have heard for the end of life when someone has dementia. Thank you for sharing your family's experience and for your comments.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    12 months ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, one of my aunts died of dementia several years ago. When her symptoms became too much for my uncle to handle, they moved in with their daughter, my cousin. Aunt Polly never was hospitalized, rather she lived and died in a family setting, for which we are all grateful. My mom told me that near the end my aunt couldn't remember to eat or bathe but always insisted on having her cigarettes.

    Thanks for the information, Pamela. I'll be back to watch the videos.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Alyssa,

    I fully agree with you about this disease being difficult for family and the patient. I appreciate your nice comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    12 months ago from Ohio

    This is a tough disease for everyone involved. I have a lot of experience with it.. family, and of course, when I worked in the healthcare field. But as always, I come away from your articles learning something new. I was fascinated to learn about the different types of dementia. Exercise, music, and art were always favorite activities at work and I found that just simple, general conversation was always appreciated. Thank you for this insightful article! I hope you have a wonderful week!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    I am pleased that you found this article useful, with new information. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    12 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    A lot of useful information here unknown to me prior to reading this. Thank you for adding to my knowledge.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora,

    I am glad you found this article to present good information. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    12 months ago from The Caribbean

    There is much to learn about the different types of dementia. Thanks for presenting this information. I especially appreciate the sections on medications and therapies.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Mel,

    I have heard similar stories like what happened to your stepfather. It is certainly sad I appreciate you sharing your experience and for commenting.

  • Mel Carriere profile image

    Mel Carriere 

    12 months ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

    My stepfather began to show signs of dementia and it took him pretty quickly. The chief cause of his death was not the disease itself, but that he would not acknowledge he had a problem. He refused to give up driving, got lost, had an accident, caught pneumonia in the hospital, and died. Very tragic for a man who was extremely intelligent at the height of his powers.

    Great article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    Dementia is sad for the patient and their family member. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Paul,

    I am sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. I hope he has some good doctors. Thank you for commenting.

  • Paul Kuehn profile image

    Paul Richard Kuehn 

    12 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

    Hi, Pamela!

    I find this article very interesting and useful because my 63-year-old brother-in-law has been suffering from dementia for at least 3 years. I will definitely share this article with my sister. Thanks for sharing.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Dementia is such a sad condition. I hope better treatments are found soon. As always, thanks for sharing the information, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Manatits,

    This is a painful disease for the patient and maybe even more so for family members. The sooner the researchers find a cure the better. Thank you so much for your comments, Manatita. God bless!

  • manatita44 profile image

    manatita44 

    12 months ago from london

    You covered this severe ailment very well. Dora knows quite a lot about this as she nursed her own mom and wrote about it. Yes, some Ayurveda are supposed to help. A very painful one for relatives and friends.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Sp,

    More women than men do get Alzheimer's disease and it is scary. I appreciate your comments.

  • sangre profile image

    Sp Greaney 

    12 months ago from Ireland

    Great article. That is one disease that is getting so common especially with woman. It's scary for the individual and their family.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby,

    Your experience at work is another story that seems to be told over and over again. It is not easy working with people who have any type of dementia. It is such a sad disease and I agree it is the most dreaded disease.

    Thank you for reading and commenting on this article.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    12 months ago from Southern Illinois

    I think this is the most dreaded disease. I had a Dear friend that developed Alzheimer's Disease. I also worked in an Alzheimer unit. People in their 50's and 60's, plus older people. It was very sad. We had one man who was a chemist, well educated, he had a jacket with stripes, he would bring it to my desk and attempt to explain the lines, why they were there and where they were going. One day he refused to eat that lasted 2 or 3 days finally we started an IV for hydration but he soon died. Staying active, using the brain is the key. You have written a great article, easy to read and understand. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill,

    Dementia includes so many terrible diseases. I am sorry to hear about your grandmother and I know it was especially horrible for your mother. Thank you so much for commenting.

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 

    12 months ago from Massachusetts

    Hi Pam. Excellent overview of this terrible disease. My grandmother suffered from dementia and it was awful, not just for her but for my mother who cared for her. Liz brought up CJD and we had a close friend who died of this just a few years ago. Just a terrible way to go.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lisha,

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I know it was heartbreaking for you and all your family. I appreciate your comments.

  • Lisha C profile image

    Lisha C 

    12 months ago

    An informative article about Dementia. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s and Dementia to the point where he needed 24/7 care. It was very sad to see him deteriorate like that. It is a terrible disease.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna,

    There is more research now and we await the cure. I hope it is soon. Thank you for your very nice comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I am so sorry you have experienced this disease with so many people you love. I hope some day we have that cure. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill,

    I remember what you wrote about your friend. You have experienced this terrible illness on a personal level. I appreciate your comments, Bill.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    12 months ago

    An well detailed and informative article Pamela. Many of us have been touched by the effects of dementia on loved ones or friends. Research has improved due to increased funding, so hopefully a cure is just around the corner. Thank you for sharing this insightful article.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    12 months ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela, I hate this disease, even more than cancer. With cancer you at least have a chance, some options, but there is no cure for this. Alzheimer's took my mom away, my next door neighbor, and now my best friend of 40 years. You explained it well. Thanks for all you do here.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    12 months ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm quite familiar with it. My mother-in-law has Dementia. My best friend Alzheimer's. Ugly, ugly diseases. Thank you for sharing information about it all.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ann,

    I recently found out the cardiologist I worked with at one time had dementia and died not too long after he retired. He was brilliant and I was shocked when I found out he had such a severe case of dementia and lived such a short time after working so hard for so many years. Like you, I hope for a cure some day.

    Thank you so much, Ann, for your very generous comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Chitrangada,

    This is sure an awful disease. As head injuries can cause one type of dementia I think someone with dementia would not necessarily be elderly. I don't think it woud happen to children however.

    Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz,

    I didn't know about the infected beef problem. That sounds awful and I can understand not wanting to give beef to your children. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric,

    The symptoms are similar to bipolar. I imagine your friend would appreciate a phone call as he has a tough job. Thanks for reading and commneting, Eric.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Heidi,

    This is a heartbreaking disease for sure. There is a lot of research taking place but I did not see anything that was close to a cure.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Thank you this is really well done. It struck me how similar this is to a bad case of bi-polar disorder. I wonder. I sure learned a lot here. And it is a good reminder to call my friend caring for his wife.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    12 months ago from UK

    Dementia is a terrible disease. You have explained it very well. Is Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease the variant that was linked to eating infected meat? In the UK many years ago it was feared that there would be a big outbreak linked to Mad Cow's Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). I stopped giving my children beef and the government brought in new regulations to control what went on sale to consumers.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    12 months ago from New Delhi, India

    An excellent article, giving all the basic information about Dementia.

    I am aware of this disease, as some of my close ones suffered from it. Not only the person with Dementia, but the entire family suffers, to see their dear ones, in such a condition.

    Although I have mostly seen this in elderly people. Just wanted to ask, does it affect young people, as well?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with the readers.

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    12 months ago from SW England

    This is a thorough examination of cause and effect, Pamela. Well done indeed.

    I suppose we all know at least one person with dementia. It is my worst fear as it seems to cause a complete change of character when people lose their memories and other faculties. It impacts on loved ones to a huge extent.

    Maybe there will be a cure one day or at least something to arrest the symptoms.

    Once again, you've given us detailed information in a clear, concise style. Thank you, Pamela.

    Ann

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    This is such a sad disease! Every once in a while I see articles about developments in research in this area and hope there will be a cure or improved therapies on the horizon. Thanks for raising awareness!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rosina,

    I am glad you found this to be an interesting article. I thought it wisas interesting that there were so many types of dementia, even though alzheimer's disease is the most common and the one we usually hear about. Thank you for your comments.

  • surovi99 profile image

    Rosina S Khan 

    12 months ago

    Pamela, this is a well-written article packed with info about Dementia leading to cognitive decline. I came to know that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of Dementia. This disease along with others caused by Dementia along with their treatments and medication make the article worthwhile to read and educate oneself.

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