If you have aging relatives, you have probably noticed varying levels of memory loss, some of which can be very debilitating. Most of us think that memory loss is an inevitable part of aging, but that is not true, according to experts.
Dementia or memory loss can also be caused by factors like thyroid imbalances and certain vitamin deficiencies; these conditions are often reversible.
Dementia and Memory Loss
Dementia is a combination of symptoms indicating a decline in cognitive functioning that can sometimes be severe enough to obstruct normal functioning, especially in older individuals.
Statistics show that nearly 47 million people around the world suffer from one form of dementia or another and according to the World Health Organization, we might see an increase of 28 million by 2030.
Any damage to the brain cells, brought on by age or health conditions, is the main cause of dementia. The condition develops when the brain cells lose the ability to communicate with each other, affecting thoughts, behaviors and emotions.
There are different types of dementia, two of the most common being Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s is caused by excessive protein deposits in and around the brain cells that reduce the ability of the cells to communicate. It usually impacts the cells present in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that receives, processes and saves memories. Vascular dementia, on the other hand, is the aftermath of a stroke.
Different types of memory loss indicate different conditions. For instance, short-term memory loss is most often associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s and those in the early stages might still have an intact long-term memory until the disease progresses further.
Also, with Alzheimer’s, the brain loses its ability to store its memories while in other types of dementia the brain may not be able to remember memories and this acts as a diagnostic tool to differentiate Alzheimer’s from other types of dementia.
Early Signs of Dementia to Look Out For
Just like many other health conditions, dementia also may have some warning signs that you can to watch out for. These include:
- Difficulty following directions
- Tumors, thyroid problems and clots that may cause dementia-like symptoms
- Language problems, where individuals find it difficult to understand or respond in a language they have used all their lives
- Inability to identify common objects and familiar faces
- Severe mood changes, bordering on depression
If you notice these and other memory-related conditions in a loved one, it is advisable to get them checked out at once by a specialist. Because, experts believe that even though the damaged brain cells and the related symptoms of dementia naturally worsen over time, the progression can be slowed and the symptoms can be addressed by focusing on contributing factors like depression, vitamin deficiencies and excessive use of alcohol.
Early detection and appropriate treatment strategies can sometimes prevent the progression of the condition and significantly improve the individual’s quality of life.
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5 Early Signs of Dementia. (2018, August 09). Retrieved from https://www.healthyway.com/content/early-signs-of-dementia-and-why-everyone-should-know-them/
What Is Dementia? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia