Memory Gaps: Dementia

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Memory, language, social interaction, problem solving, reasoning and the concept of self awareness are just a few important cognitive functions of the brain.  We may not be fully aware of these, but we have been doing this since the minute we were born.

A Decline or dysfunction in any of these important abilities may be termed as Dementia.    And as such, entails a big burden on the affected individual.  Symptoms may be classified as mild or severe, and are reflected to the patients ability to support one owns survival and relationship/communication to other family members and the society as a whole.

Dementia can be a manifestation of other disease entities ranging from nutritional deficiency states, strokes, cardiovascular diseases and endocrine anomalies.  It can stable or progressive depending on the major etiologic disease.

Treatment is dependent to the underlying etiology, but with the case of Alzheimer’s Disease, there is no known cure and is progressive.  Current treatment regimens on Alzheimer’s Disease may improve symptoms but will not retard its progression. 

Screening procedures done at the clinics may help the physician identify patients with Dementia, and the widely used screening tool is the mini mental status examination.  A thorough background check is essential especially the patient’s educational attainment, since a low educational status might result to a low score leading to a misdiagnosis.  A complete history and physical examination and high index of suspicion will guide the physician to an accurate diagnosis.

Personal experience on patients with the disease and its long term treatment did not result to satisfactory clinical improvement, in such a way that can be noticed by lay family members and care givers.  Family education, risk assessment, disease prevention, comorbidity control and adequate nutrional health are my goals of management to my  patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and I think should be the major treatment guidelines for the disease until a cure can be produced by future advancement in medicine.

The following are some of the typical symptoms of DEMENTIA:

1) behavioural Changes

2) Lack of attention

3) failure to construct meaning in a sentence

4) paranoid delusions

5) sleep wake cycle changes

6) difficulty identifying close relatives

7) inability to recall important past events(memory) in life

Should you have further questions or may be at risk for Dementia, pay a visit to your internist.

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