Dementia: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Dementia is a brain condition where cognitive abilities decline. There’s no cure yet, but scientists are studying treatments and prevention methods. Dementia involves a decrease in mental abilities, impacting at least two brain functions. It can affect memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Dementia can result from different illnesses or injuries and varies in severity from too severe. It might lead to changes in personality. Certain types of dementia worsen gradually over time, while others can be treated or reversed. Some experts only use “dementia” for irreversible mental decline. For more research you can also visit the World Health Organization.

What are the Types of Dementia?

There are many types of dementia. Some of them are:

Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s disease is the common reason for dementia, making up 70-80% of cases. It happens when abnormal clumps and tangles from between brain cells because of protein changes. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble remembering recent events, finding the right words, making choices, and seeing things in three dimensions.

Lewy Body Dementia:

Lewy body dementia happens in abnormal structures called Lewy bodies from in the brain. These changes involve a protein called alpha-synuclein. In the beginning, people may experience fluctuations in alertness, hallucinations, and trouble judging distance. Memory problems may not be as severe as in Alzheimer’s disease. It can also occur in people with Parkinson’s disease. Although Parkinson’s disease is usually known for movement issues, dementia symptoms can also develop.

Frontotemporal Dementia:

This condition affects the front and sides of the brain. It occurs when brain cells die because of protein clumps forming inside them. The symptoms depend on which part of the brain is affected. They may include problems with behavior, speech, and communication.

Huntington’s Disease:

It is a genetic condition that runs in families. It causes uncontrolled movements, and sometimes dementia. Early signs may include trouble focusing, irritability, and acting without thinking. The person might also feel depressed. They might find it hard to recognize, do more than one thing at a time, or plan ahead. These signs may show up before the uncontrolled movements start.

Mixed Dementia:

When someone is diagnosed with two or three types of dementia at the same time, it’s called a mixed diagnosis. For example, someone might have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia together.

What are the Stages of Dementia?

According to the World Health Organization dementia is generally divided into three stages: early, middle, and late. Let’s explore each of these stages in more detail.

Early Stage:

  • At this stage, a person may not appear to have dementia. They may:
  • Become more forgetful
  • Loss of track of time
  • Feel lost in familiar locations

Middle Stage:

At this stage, the symptoms become more noticeable and include:

  • Forgetting names and recent events
  • Feeling lost when at home
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Behavioral changes
  • Repeatedly asking questions
  • Needing help with personal care

Late Stage:

At this stage, a person needs full-time assistance, as the impact of the symptoms typically becomes more severe. The person may:

  • Be unaware of where they are
  • Be unaware of time
  • Have difficulty recognizing loved ones
  • Find it hard to talk
  • Experience behavioral changes, which may include aggression

Mild Cognitive Impairment:

Older adults may develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but they may never progress to dementia or any other mental impairment. People with MCI commonly experience forgetfulness, trouble recalling words, and short-term memory problems.

What are the Symptoms of Dementia?

In its early stages, dementia can cause symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty coping with change. Someone may struggle to accept changes in schedules or environment.
  • Subtle changes in short-term memory. Someone may remember events from 15 years ago vividly, but struggle to recall what they had for lunch.
  • Struggling to find the right words. Difficulty recalling or connecting words may occur.
  • Repeating oneself. Someone may ask the same question, perform the same task, or recount the same story several times.
  • Difficulty recognizing familiar places. Locations someone once knew well may now feel unfamiliar. They may also struggle with navigating familiar driving routes because they no longer appear recognizable.
  • Difficulty following storylines. Someone may find it challenging to keep up with the plot of a story or understand descriptions.
  • Mood changes. People with dementia may experience feelings of depression, frustration, or anger.
  • Lack of interest. People with dementia may lose interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed, showing signs of apathy.
  • Disorientation. Individuals with dementia may experience confusion regarding people, places, and events, finding them unfamiliar. They might struggle to recognize individuals who are acquainted with them.
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks. Individuals in the early stages of dementia may struggle to recall how to perform tasks they’ve done routinely for many years.

What are the Causes of Dementia?

Some types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, occur due to the gradual death of brain cells and neurons, worsening over time. However, dementia can also arise from head injuries, strokes, brain tumors, and other causes. For instance, a stroke can block blood and oxygen flow to brain cells, leading to cell damage and death. Similarly, a blow to the head can directly harm brain cells. Certain types of traumatic brain injuries, especially if repetitive (as seen in some sports), may raise the risk of specific dementia types later in life. Other factors and conditions that share similar symptoms include:

  • Use of some drugs
  • Some infections, such as HIV/AIDS or neurosyphilis
  • Depression
  • Vitamin B12 or E deficiency
  • Thyroid problems

Some of the more common cause of dementia include:

Neurodegenerative Disease:

It means that neurons gradually stop working properly and eventually die. This impacts the connections between neurons, known as synapses, which are how messages are transmitted in your brain. This disruption can lead to various impairments.

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease with dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Chronic alcohol use disorder

Another cause is frontotemporal lobar degeneration. This term covers a variety of conditions that lead to damage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These conditions include:

  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Pick’s disease
  • Supranuclear palsy
  • Corticobasal degeneration

Other Causes of Dementia:

Dementia has a other cases, including:

  • Structural brain disorder, such as normal pressure hydrocephalus and subdural hematoma.
  • Metabolic disorders, such as hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, and kidney and liver disorders.
  • Toxins, such as bleed
  • Certain tumors or infections of the brain
  • Medication side effects

Some of these types of dementia may be reversible. These treatable causes of dementia may reverse symptoms if they’re identified early enough. This underscores the importance of contacting your doctor and undergoing a medical evaluation as soon as symptoms emerge.

What are the Risk Factors of Dementia?

It has been estimated that approximately 40% of dementia causes could be linked to twelve main risk factors that are potentially modified. Such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Low levels of cognitive engagement
  • Depression
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Hearing loss
  • Social isolation
  • Air pollution

Other Risk Factors of Dementia:

  • Other medical conditions that can raise your risk of developing dementia include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease, and HIV.
  • Down syndrome and certain other developmental disabilities may also heighten your risk of developing dementia.

What are the Tests of Dementia?

Evaluation typically includes a series of inquiries and activities. These subsequent sections will delve into these in further detail.

Cognitive Dementia Tests:

The dementia assessments commonly employed by doctors were developed by experts in the 1970s. A physician may pose queries like:

  • What is your age?
  • What is the time, to the nearest hour?
  • What is your address?
  • What is the year?
  • What is your date of birth?

The doctor may also consider feedback from family members and caregivers.

If the findings indicate memory loss, the doctor may proceed with blood tests and a CT brain scan to delve deeper and eliminate other potential causes. Another assessment, known as the mini-mental state examination-also developed in the 1970s-evaluates:

  • Orientation to time and place
  • Word recall
  • Language abilities
  • Attention and calculation
  • Visuospatial skills

It can aid in diagnosing dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, it can gauge its severity and determine if drug treatment is suitable.

Mini-Cog Test:

The doctor may also conduct a test called the Mini-Cog test. This involves the following steps:

  • The doctor will select three words from a specific set, such as “banana, sunrise, chair,” and ask the person to repeat them. The person can have up to three attempts at this.
  • If the person cannot do this, the doctor will ask them to draw a clock face, fill in the numbers, and set the hands to a specific time. The person should complete this task within 3 minutes.
  • If the individual cannot complete the clock task in time, the doctor will ask them to recall and repeat the three words from the first task.

There will be a maximum of 10 points. If the person scores fewer than 3-4 points, the doctor will consider dementia as a possible diagnosis.

What is the Diagnosis of Dementia?

To diagnose the cause of dementia, healthcare professionals must recognize the pattern of loss of skills and function. They also assess what the person is still capable of doing. More recently, biomarkers have become available to provide a more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A healthcare professional reviews your medical history and symptoms and conducts a physical exam. They may also ask someone close to you about your symptoms. No single test can diagnose dementia. You’ll likely need a series of tests to help identify the issue. The different types of tests are including:

  • Neurological evaluation
  • Brain scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scans
  • Laboratory tests
  • Psychiatric evaluation

What is the Treatment of Dementia?

There is currently no cure for most types of dementia because it’s not yet possible to reverse brain cell death. However, treatment may help manage symptoms. Some medication may help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Three drugs, known as cholinesterase inhibitors, have approval for use in the United States. They are:

  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Galantamine (Reminyl)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)

Cholinesterase inhibitors can also help manage behavioral symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A person may also use memantine (Namenda), which is an NMDA receptor antagonist, either alone or with a cholinesterase inhibitor. If the symptoms result from an injury, medications use, or a vitamin deficiency, it may be possible to prevent further damage.

Other Forms of Care:

Some lifestyle strategies that may help manage dementia include ensuring that the person:

  • Follows a healthy diet
  • Engages in regular exercise
  • Attend all medical appointments
  • Takes their medications as prescribed
  • Maintain regular sleep habits
  • Resides in a safe living space
  • Receives support from family members and caregivers, as needed

What is the Prevention of Dementia?

For decades, doctors and researchers believed dementia couldn’t be prevented or cured. However, new research suggests otherwise. A 2017 review discovered that over one-third of dementia cases might be linked to lifestyle factors. Researchers identified nine risk factors that could heighten a person’s likelihood of developing dementia. These include:

  • Midlife hypertension
  • Midlife obesity
  • Hearing loss
  • Late-life depression
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Social isolation
  • Lower levels of education

The researchers believed that addressing these risk factors through treatment or intervention could delay or even prevent some cases of dementia. A 2019 study explained almost 200,000 individuals of European descent. It indicated that lifestyle factors like smoking, physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption might play a role in the risk of dementia. These results imply that adopting a healthy diet and active lifestyle, in consultation with your doctor, could potentially help prevent or postpone the onset of dementia.

What is the Life Expectancy of Dementia?

Individuals living with dementia can indeed survive for years following their diagnosis, which might give the impression that dementia isn’t a fatal illness. However, late-stage dementia is considered terminal. Predicting life expectancy in individuals with dementia is challenging for doctors. Various factors affecting life expectancy may differ from person to person. According to a 2015 study, women diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease lived an average of 5.7 years after diagnosis, while men lived 4.2 years. Life expectancy might be shorter for individuals with other forms of dementia. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of death in people with dementia. These factors include:

  • Increased age
  • Being born male
  • Decreased capabilities and functionally
  • Additionally medical conditions, disease or diagnosis, such as diabetes or cancer

It’s crucial to understand that dementia doesn’t adhere to a fixed timeline. The progression through its stages can vary significantly from person to person. Some individuals may experience a gradual progression, while others may face rapid and unpredictable changes. These differences in progression can impact life expectancy.

Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Dementia:

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are distinct conditions. Dementia serves as an umbrella term encompassing various symptoms concerning memory, language, and decision making abilities. Alzheimer’s disease the most prevalent form of dementia, leads to challenges such as:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes

Dementia causes symptoms such as:

  • Forgetfulness or memory impairment
  • Loss of sense of direction
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty with personal care

The specific symptoms experienced can vary depending on the type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease can also manifest these symptoms, but may additionally include depression, impaired judgment, and speech difficulties. Treatment approaches for dementia are tailored to the specific types. However, treatments for Alzheimer’s disease often overlap with those for other forms of dementia. In certain types of dementia, addressing the underlying cause might help alleviate memory and behavioral issues. However, this is not the case with Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the distinctions between the two conditions can aid in recognizing the symptoms experienced by you or a loved one.

How Common is Dementia?

According to the World  Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 55 million people worldwide living with dementia, with about 10 million new cases reported each year. The number of dementia cases is on the rise, partly due to increasing life expectancy. By 2030, the population aged 65 and older in the United States is expected to nearly double from 37 million in 2006 to an estimated 74 million by 2030, as per the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. With this larger population of individuals over 65, the rates of dementia are expected to increase as well.

What is Amnesia and How is it Treated?

Amnesia is when someone can’t remember things they used to know. There are different kinds of amnesia. Sometimes the signs of each kind are similar, and someone might have more than one type. If someone just forgets small things in their daily life, they don’t have amnesia. Amnesia is about losing a lot of memories for a long time because of sickness, brain damage, or emotional shock.

What is Amnesia?

Understanding how the brain remembers things is complicated. Even researchers don’t fully know what exactly happens when someone puts a memory in their brain or recalls it later. When someone gets amnesia, they often forget important moments, people in their life, or important facts they’ve learned. Most people with amnesia can still clearly and know who they are. Sometimes they remember everything up to a certain point, but struggle to remember things after that. Other times, they forget everything before a certain point. Usually, the memory loss isn’t consistent, and they forget only some events. For some people with amnesia, thinking about the future is hard. This is because the brain uses past memories to imagine what might happen next.

What are the Types of Amnesia?

There are various conditions related to amnesia, and it comes in many types. Sometimes, the symptoms of different types can be similar, and someone might have more than one type. Amnesia can last for a short time or a long time. The most common types of amnesia are:

  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Retrograde amnesia
  • Transient global amnesia
  • Traumatic amnesia
  • Fugue or dissociative amnesia
  • Posthypnotic amnesia
  • Source amnesia
  • Alcohol-induced amnesia
  • Prosopamnesia

Another kind of amnesia is called childhood amnesia or infantile amnesia. But it’s not a real disorder. When children are young, their language and memory skills are still growing. That’s why most adults can’t remember events from when they were very long.

What are the Symptoms of Amnesia?

Here are some common signs of different types of amnesia:

  • Difficulty learning new things (anterograde amnesia)
  • Trouble remembering past events and things that were once familiar (retrograde amnesia)
  • Having false memories, which can be made-up memories or real memories mixed up in time (known as confabulation)
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Partial or complete loss of all memory
  • Feeling confuses

What are the Causes of Amnesia?

Any illness or injury that harms the brain can disrupt memory. Memory involves various parts of the brain working together. If parts of the brain related to emotions and memories, like the hippocampus and thalamus, get damaged, it can cause amnesia. These parts make up the limbic system, which manages emotions and memories.

Medical Causes:

Amnesia can happen due to brain injury or damage. Here are some possible reasons:

  • Stroke
  • Illness causing brain inflammation like encephalitis, which often come from bacterial or viral infections or autoimmune reactions
  • Lack of oxygen, which might occur during a heart attack, breathing problems, or carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Certain medications, like Ambien used for insomnia
  • Bleeding in the area between the skull and the brain called subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Brain tumors affecting memory-related parts
  • Some seizure disorder
  • Head injuries, which can cause temporary memory loss
  • Surgery and anesthesia, sometimes leading to trouble remembering things before or after the procedure
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, caused by long-term alcohol abuse or a lack of vitamin B1, resulting in worsening memory loss over time. It can also cause other nerve-related issues like coordination problems and numbness in fingers and toes.

Psychological Amnesia:

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), amnesia is classified as a type of dissociative disorder. This usually means memory loss due to psychological trauma or stress, without a physical cause. Examples of dissociative conditions with amnesia include:

  • Dissociative fugue
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)
  • Acute stress disorder

Traumatic causes or triggers might include:

  • Being a victim of violent crime or a terrorist attack
  • Experiencing sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Facing trauma during military service
  • Surviving a natural disaster

Any extremely stressful situation causing internal conflict can lead to some level of amnesia. Such stressors are more likely to affect personal memories rather than forming new ones.

What is the Diagnosis of Amnesia?

A doctor will need to eliminate other potential causes of memory loss, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, or a brain tumor. They’ll start by gathering a thorough medical history, which might be challenging if the person doesn’t remember. In such cases, family or caregivers may need to help. The doctor will require the person’s consent to discuss their medical information with someone else. Questions might include:

  • Can the person recall recent events and events from further back in time?
  • When did the memory issues begin?
  • How did they progress?
  • Could any factors like head injury, surgery, or stroke have been caused by memory loss?
  • Is there a family history of neurological or psychiatric conditions?
  • Does the person drink alcohol?
  • Are they on any medications?
  • Have they used illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin?
  • Are the symptoms affecting their ability to care for themselves?
  • Do they have a history of depression or seizures?
  • Have they ever had cancer?

The doctor will also conduct a physical exam, which may involve checking certain brain and nervous system functions like:

  • Reflexes
  • Sensory function
  • Balance

They doctor may also check the person’s

  • Judgment
  • Short-term memory
  • Long-term memory

The memory evaluation will help understand how much memory loss has occurred. This will guide the selection of the most effective treatment. To check for any physical damage or abnormalities in the brain, the doctor might request an MRI, CAT scan, or electroencephalogram (ECG). Blood tests could uncover any infections or nutritional deficiencies.

What is the Treatment of Amnesia?

In many cases, amnesia goes away on its own without needing treatment. But if there’s an underlying physical or mental issue, treating that condition becomes important. Therapies like psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might help some people with amnesia. Hypnosis can sometimes bring back forgotten memories. Working on recalling memories and dealing with any psychological problems linked to amnesia is crucial. Activities like meditation and mindfulness might relax the mind and help retrieve lost memories. Family support is vital too. Showing old photos, familiar smells, or playing favorite music can trigger memories. Currently, there aren’t any drugs to restore lost memory from amnesia. But treating the underlying causes is possible. For instance, Wernicke-Korsakoff (WKS) involves memory loss due to a lack of vitamin B1. Eating foods rich in thiamin like whole grains, beans, nuts, lean pork, and yeast can help. Those with WKS need to stop drinking alcohol too. People with amnesia from head injuries might need surgery to remove blood clots in the brain. Those with encephalitis might need anti-inflammatory medications.

What is the Prevention of Amnesia?

To lower the risk of amnesia, a person can:

  • Wear protective headgear during activities like cycling, skating, skiing, or contact sports to prevent brain injuries.
  • Seek medical help if experiencing high fever, stiff neck, or severe headaches, which could signal a brain function.
  • Always wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Have regular eye check-ups, especially if over 65, to prevent falls.
  • Exercise regularly to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and avoid saturated fats to prevent heart disease that can affect memory.
  • Seek psychological treatment or encourage loved ones to get help if they’ve gone through trauma.


Is dementia is Curable?

Currently, there’s no single “cure” for dementia. Since dementia stems from various diseases, finding a single cure is unlikely. Research focuses on finding cures for the diseases that lead to dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies.

What is the 2 finger test in dementia?

Simply put, the test works like this: the examiner makes a certain hand shape, like interlocking their fingers in a specific way, and then asks the patient to copy. The patient’s ability to mimic the shape made by the examiner is then evaluated.

How can I test for dementia at home?

Neurologist Dr. Douglas Scharre created the SAGE test to offer an easy-to-use self-assessment for mild cognitive problems, which can be early signs of dementia. The questions in the test assess various cognitive areas affected in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is my memory so poor?

This condition happens due to physical illnesses like infections or long-term conditions. It’s also common in those dealing with mental health issues and stress. Just because you’re becoming more forgetful doesn’t necessarily mean you have dementia. Some people have better memory skills than others.

What age is the best memory?

Between ages 18-19, the speed at which we process information is at its highest, but then it starts declining. At age 25, short-term memory improves until about age 25 and stays relatively stable until around age 35 when it starts decreasing. At age 30, memory for faces reaches its peak and then gradually starts declining.

What are the signs of good memory?

Signs of a good memory include, quickness, duration of recall or recognition, accuracy, and usefulness. Having the desire to learn is important. Interest and paying close attention are crucial for effective learning and remembering information.

What is brain fog?

Brain fog syndrome is a condition marked by confusion, forgetfulness, and difficulty focusing and thinking clearly. It can result from factors like overwork, lack of sleep, stress, and spending excessive time on the computer.

Is dementia neuro or psych?

Dementia is a general term for brain disorder that causes cognitive decline. It’s estimated that over 55 million people worldwide have dementia.

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