What is dementia?
Dementia is the medical term used to describe a group of symptoms consisting of memory loss, impaired judgement, disorientation and behavioural changes, which are of sufficient severity to cause loss of function.
Dementia is not part of normal ageing, although the elderly are more susceptible to becoming demented. Dementia occurs because there is degeneration of brain function, which eventually affects social or occupational activities (e.g. work, hobbies, shopping, cooking, dressing, eating, bathing and toileting).
(Adapted from “Someone to Stand by You”: A guide for caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease Association: Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.)
Causes of dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Vascular Dementia (VaD) (Strokes causing dementia)
FrontoTemporal Dementia (FTD)
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)
Parkinson’s Disease with dementia
Autoimmune diseases of the brain
Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Risk factors for dementia
Why is it important to have a diagnosis?
Some causes of dementia are potentially reversible. However, there is presently no cure for the common causes of dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia.
Nevertheless, there are medications available to alleviate symptoms and enhance quality of life. Apart from medications, there are also behavioural therapies, counselling and education to improve care for patients with dementia and their families. Patients may also benefit from advice on appropriate care facilities and legal issues.
Many new treatments are being developed for the prevention and treatment of dementia. There are ongoing clinical trials and other research efforts in Singapore. If you (or your caregiver) are keen to participate and contribute to improving the knowledge about dementing disease, please inform your doctor.
Where to seek support?
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