Oblivion: it's not always what you think
Many older people worry about becoming more forgetful. They think that forgetting is the first sign of Alzheimer disease. In the past, memory loss and confusion were considered a normal part of aging. However, scientists now know that most people remain alert and capable as they get older, although it may take them longer to remember things.
Many people experience memory lapses. Some memory problems are serious and others are not. People who have severe changes in their memory, personality and behavior may suffer from a form of brain disease called dementia. Dementia seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer's disease Illness is one of the many types of dementia.
The term dementia describes a group of symptoms caused by changes in brain function. Symptoms of dementia may include:
asking the same questions repeatedly; get lost in familiar places; not being able to follow the instructions; disorientation about time, people and places; and neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition.
People with dementia lose their abilities at different rates.
Dementia is caused by many conditions. Some conditions that cause dementia can be reversed, and others can not. In addition, many different medical conditions can cause symptoms that appear to be Alzheimer's disease, but they are not. Some of these medical conditions may be treatable. Reversible conditions can be caused by a high fever, dehydration, vitamin deficiency and poor nutrition, bad reactions to medications, problems with the thyroid gland or a minor head injury. Medical conditions such as these can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
Sometimes older people have emotional problems that can be confused with dementia. Feeling sad, lonely, worried or bored may be more common for seniors who retire or face the death of a spouse, relative or friend. Adapting to these changes makes some people feel confused or forgotten. Emotional problems can be alleviated by friends and family who support them, or by professional help from a doctor or counselor.
The two most common forms of dementia in the elderly are Alzheimer's disease and dementia due to multiple infarction (sometimes called vascular dementia). These types of dementia are irreversible, which means they can not be cured.
In Alzheimer's disease, changes in nerve cells in certain parts of the brain cause the death of a large number of cells. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease start slowly and get worse constantly. As the disease progresses, symptoms range from a mild lack of memory to serious impairments in thinking, judgment and ability to perform daily activities. Eventually, patients may need total attention.
In multi-infarct dementia, a series of small strokes or changes in the brain's blood supply can lead to brain tissue death. The location in the brain where small strokes occur determines the severity of the problem and the symptoms that arise. Symptoms that start suddenly can be a sign of this type of dementia. It is likely that people with dementia for multiple infarction show signs of improvement or remain stable for long periods of time, and then develop new symptoms if more strokes occur. In many people with multi-infarct dementia, high blood pressure is the culprit One of the most important reasons for high control. blood pressure It is to prevent blows.
Diagnosis: people concerned about memory problems should consult their doctor. If the doctor believes that the problem is serious, a thorough physical, neurological and psychiatric evaluation can be recommended. A complete medical examination for memory loss may include the collection of information about a person's medical history, including the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, diet, past medical problems, and general health. Because a correct diagnosis depends on remembering these details accurately, the doctor can also ask a family member for information about the person.
Blood and urine tests can be done to help the doctor find any problems. There are also tests of mental abilities (memory tests, problem solving, counting and language). A CT scan of the brain can help the doctor rule out a serious disorder. An exploration may also show signs of normal changes related to age in the brain. It may be necessary to perform another scan at a later date to see if there have been additional changes in the brain.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia due to multiple infarction can exist together, which makes it difficult for the doctor to diagnose any of them specifically. The scientists thought that dementia due to multiple infarcts and other types of vascular dementia caused the majority of cases of irreversible mental deterioration. Now they believe that most elderly people with irreversible dementia have Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment: Even if the doctor diagnoses an irreversible form of dementia, much can still be done to treat the patient and help the family cope. A person with dementia should be under the care of a doctor and can see a neurologist, psychiatrist, family doctor, internist or geriatrician. The doctor can treat the patient's physical behavior problems and answer the many questions that the person or family may have.
For some people in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer's disease, the drugs tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) are prescribed to possibly delay the worsening of some symptoms of the disease. Doctors believe it is very important that people with multiple heart attack dementia try to prevent new attacks by controlling high blood pressure, controlling and treating high blood cholesterol and diabetes, and not of smoking.
Many people with dementia do not need medication for behavior problems. But for some people, doctors can prescribe medications to reduce agitation, anxiety, depressionor trouble sleeping. These problematic behaviors are common in people with dementia. Careful use of medications prescribed by a doctor can make people with dementia feel more comfortable and easier to take care of.
A healthy diet is important. While special diets and nutritional supplements have not been found to prevent or reverse Alzheimer's disease or multiple infarct dementia, a balanced diet helps maintain good general health. In cases of dementia due to multiple infarction, improving diet can play a role in preventing more strokes.
Family and friends can help people with dementia to continue with their daily routines, physical activities and social contacts. People with dementia should stay informed about the details of their lives, such as the time of day, the place where they live and what happens at home or in the world. Memory aids can help in the daily life of patients in the early stages of dementia. Some families find that a large calendar, a list of daily plans, notes on simple security measures and written directions that describe how to use common household items are very useful aids.
Tips for today Scientists are working to develop new drugs that can one day reduce, reverse or prevent the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease and dementia from multiple infarction. Meanwhile, people who do not have symptoms of dementia can try to keep their memory sharp.
Some suggestions include:
Develop interests or hobbies and participate in activities that stimulate the mind and body. Paying careful attention to the physical. fitness and exercise can also do a lot to maintain a healthy mental state. Limiting the use of alcoholic beverages is important, since prolonged alcohol consumption can cause permanent brain damage.
Many people find it helpful to plan tasks; make lists of "things to do"; and use notes, calendars and other memory aids. They can also remember things better by mentally connecting them with other meaningful things, such as a family name, a song or lines of a poem.
Stress, anxiety or depression can make a person more forgetful. The oblivion caused by these emotions is usually temporary and disappears when the feelings fade. However, if these feelings last a long time, it is important to get help from a professional. Treatment may include counseling or medication, or a combination of both.
Some physical and mental changes occur with age in healthy people. However, much pain and suffering can be avoided if older people, their families and their doctors recognize dementia as a disease, not as part of normal aging.
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