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Take the first signs of dementia seriously

Dementia is a general term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness. It is a symptom of several underlying brain diseases and disorders. Dementia is not a disease in its own right, but a general term used to describe symptoms of memory, communication, and thinking disorders.

Although the likelihood of developing dementia increases with age, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Some figures about dementia

There are an estimated 47.5 million people with dementia worldwide.
A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds
Dementia primarily affects older people, but is not part of the normal aging process.

dementia symptoms

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, disorientation, and mood swings. A person with dementia may have any of the symptoms listed below, mainly due to memory loss.

Some symptoms you can notice yourself, others can only be noticed by nurses or medical staff.

Possible symptoms of dementia:

– Loss of memory for recent times: A sign of this could be asking the same question over and over again.
– Difficulty performing familiar tasks such as preparing a drink or meal.
– Communication problems: language difficulties, forgetting simple words or using wrong words.
– Disorientation: for example, getting lost on a previously known street.
– Problems of abstract thinking: for example dealing with money.
– Loss of objects: forgetting the whereabouts of everyday objects such as keys or wallets.
– Mood swings: sudden and unexplained changes in attitude or mood.
– Personality changes: irritability, distrust or fear.
– Loss of initiative: Loss of interest in doing something or going somewhere.
As the patient ages, the symptoms of late-onset dementia tend to worsen.

The 4 stages of dementia

Sometimes dementia is roughly divided into four stages:

1 Mild cognitive impairment: characterized by general forgetfulness. It affects many people as they age, but progresses to dementia in only a few of them.

2 Mild Dementia: People with mild dementia have cognitive impairments that occasionally affect their daily lives. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, personality changes, getting lost, and difficulty planning and completing tasks.

3 Moderate dementia: Daily life becomes more difficult and the person may need more help. The symptoms are similar to those of mild dementia, but are more pronounced. The person may need help to dress and comb their hair. They may also exhibit significant personality changes, such as B. Getting suspicious or excited for no reason. Sleep disturbances are also likely.

4 Severe dementia: At this stage, the symptoms have significantly worsened. There may be a loss of communication skills and the person may need full-time care. Simple tasks like sitting and holding your head up become impossible. Bladder control can be lost.

types of dementia

There are different types of dementia, including:

– Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by ‘plaques’ between dying brain cells and ‘tangles’ within cells (both due to protein abnormalities). The brain tissue of a person with Alzheimer’s disease progressively has fewer nerve cells and connections, and the overall size of the brain decreases.

– Dementia with Lewy bodies is a neurodegenerative disease associated with abnormal structures in the brain. The brain changes affect a protein called alpha-synuclein.

– Mixed dementia refers to a diagnosis of two or three types of dementia occurring together. For example, a person may have both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia at the same time.

– Parkinson’s disease is also characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies. Although Parkinson’s disease is often thought of as a movement disorder, it can also lead to symptoms of dementia.

– Huntington’s disease is characterized by certain types of uncontrolled movements, but it also includes dementia.
Other disorders that cause dementia symptoms include:

– Frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick’s disease.

– Normal pressure hydrocephalus, when excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain.

– Posterior cortical atrophy resembles changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease, but in a different part of the brain.

Main causes of dementia

Dementia can be caused by the death of brain cells, and neurodegenerative diseases, the progressive death of brain cells that occurs over time, are associated with most dementias. However, it is not known if it is dementia that causes brain cell death or if it is brain cell death that causes dementia.

In addition to the progressive death of brain cells, as occurs in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia can be caused by head trauma, a stroke, or a brain tumor, among others.

Vascular dementia (also called multi-infarct dementia): This results from the death of brain cells caused by diseases such as cerebrovascular diseases, for example a

Dementia can also be caused by:

Prion diseases – for example CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).

HIV infection: It’s not known exactly how the virus damages brain cells, but it is known to occur.

Reversible Factors: Some dementias can be treated by reversing the effects of underlying causes, including drug interactions, depression, vitamin deficiencies, and thyroid abnormalities.

diagnosis of dementia

The first step in assessing memory performance and cognitive health consists of standard questions and tasks.

Research has shown that it is not possible to reliably diagnose dementia without using the following standard tests, completing them in full and noting all responses; However, the diagnosis also takes other factors into account.

Cognitive tests for dementia

Current cognitive dementia tests are widely available and have proven to be a reliable way to indicate dementia. They have changed little since their introduction in the early 1970s. The short mental test score consists of ten questions, including:

How old are you?
What time is it, to the nearest hour?
what is the year
When is your birthday ?

Each correct answer earns one point; a score of six points or less indicates cognitive impairment.

The second part of the test examines a person close to the patient and consists of six questions aimed at determining whether the patient:

Less able to recall recent events or conversations Began to have trouble finding the right words or using inappropriate words Had trouble managing money or medication Needed more help to get around (without that the reason was an injury, for example).

If the test does suggest memory loss, standard tests are recommended, including routine blood work and a brain scan.

dementia prevention

It is known that certain risk factors are associated with dementia. However, age is the most important predictor. Other risk factors are:

– Smoking and alcohol consumption.
– Arteriosclerosis (cardiovascular disease that causes narrowing of the arteries).
– High levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins).
– Above-average levels of homocysteine ​​(a type of amino acid) in the blood.
– Diabetes.
– physical inactivity


Burleigh E, Reeves I, McAlpine C, Davie J (July 2001). Can doctors predict patients’ abbreviated mental test results? age and aging. 31(4):303-6

Dementia: hope through research. (2015, November 2nd)

Marshal F. Folstein, Susan E. Folstein, Paul R. McHugh. (1975 November). Mini-Mental State: A convenient way for the clinician to rank the cognitive state of patients. Journal of Psychiatric Research. pages 189-198

Philip A DeFina, Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, Megan Glenn, Jonathan D Lichtenstein, Jonathan Fellus. (2013). Alzheimer’s disease clinical and research update for healthcare professionals. Journal of Aging Research. Year 2013 (2013), entry ID 207178, 9 pages

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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