Dementia is a syndrome, an umbrella category, rather than a disease because it has no defining cause, distinguishing symptoms, and treatments. The term dementia encompasses many forms of cognitive decline. A syndrome is a better word to define a disease, like dementia, because scientists have not discovered the underlying cause(s) associated with conditions encompassing cognitive decline in older adults. Instead, it has been assumed that it is a natural result of aging.
Yet, some people with similar living conditions and backgrounds have contracted some form of dementia, and others live their later years without any brain health issues. If dementia were a normal process of aging, then everyone would be expected to develop some form of age-related disease, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and others.
Symptoms of Dementia
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013. The most common physical symptoms associated with dementia are memory loss, difficulty finding words to express a thought, visual and special difficulties (getting lost easily), difficulty with reason and logic, confusion, coordination difficulties, and more. Additionally, many experience psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, personality changes, paranoia, inappropriate behavior, agitation, and a few more.
Dementia also has social and economic impacts on the people living with the syndrome, their families, and society. It is the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases.
Causes of Dementia
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9170-dementia. Ask your doctor what causes any disease, and you may get a relevant answer. Most treat symptoms and are not aware of the actual cause of a disease. When it comes to dementia, the causes listed are identified in the brain – not what caused the brain damage.
Sometimes, we know that a lack of oxygen to brain cells can create brain-health problems. Sometimes, it can be reversed. Diagnosis can be difficult. For example, a vitamin B12 deficiency mimics Alzheimer’s disease. So, most of the causation associated with dementia focuses on the beta-amyloid plaque, tau tangles, and other related neurological issues – brain cell death.
Current Treatments for Dementia
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/treatment/#:~:text=Donepezil%20(also%20known%20as%20Aricept,treat%20more%20severe%20Alzheimer’s%20disease. Doctors treat symptoms and the most common prescription drugs given to those with dementia are donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Reminyl). These drugs are cholinesterase inhibitors that concentrate on the connectivity between nerve cells. As nerve cells die, brain function declines.
Some doctors focus on risk factors. Age and family history may be a risk of dementia but cannot be addressed. Risk factors that can be adopted are diet, exercise, alcohol use, depression, diabetes, smoking, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and sleep. Cardiovascular risk factors are also contributing factors.
The Effective Drug-Free Option
https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.18140. Social isolation is a risk factor for developing dementia. Some scientists tell us that our brains must remain active to control thoughts, memories, emotions, touch, motor skills, and more. Therefore, interpersonal relationships are critical for brain health.
Researchers will not tell you that lack of social interaction is a causal factor of dementia. Still, evidence continues to suggest that isolation increases the risk of dementia strongly. One in four elderly adults is socially isolated.
Addressing Social Isolation
https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/isolation-social-dementia/2023/01/13/id/1104335/. A 2011 study of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries showed remarkable results. The participants completed a two-hour, in-person interview assessing their mental function and overall health and well-being.
Almost a quarter of this group showed no signs of dementia. Almost a decade later, over one-fifth of this group developed dementia, with a significant portion of those being socially isolated adults.
The study found that socially isolated older adults live alone, have smaller groups of friends, and are limited to activities involving other people. Another study discovered that technology could help the elderly by providing an opportunity to increase their interactions with others electronically via email and phone which lowered the risk of social isolation.
It was noted that participants of this Medicare group study who regularly used technology in their daily lives had almost a third less risk of social isolation from others. The results were published in the American Geriatrics Society journal.
Social isolation is a problem that can be addressed without huge costs. Having the technology does not mean a person will actively use it. There are still habits learned in social isolation that must be undone. Social isolation is one of many risk factors that cost little to incorporate into a lifestyle that reduces the risk of dementia.
Nutritional balance, caloric restriction, stress management, weight management, expectation management, sleep, physical activity, reduction in alcohol and smoking, regular health and wellness examinations, and contact with friends and family can reduce the occurrence and development of many diseases.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com