What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that cause progressive damage to the brain. It is a symptom that occurs in over 100 conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia or Lewy Body dementia.
Dementia can begin as a gradual or step-wise decrease in your memory, ability to retrieve words or name things or ability to perform your daily activities. Dementia may also cause personality changes and mood problems.
Other terms commonly used when discussing dementia are memory loss and mild cognitive impairment.
What Are Common Warning Signs of Early Dementia?
- Forgetfulness, suggested by misplacing items, missing appointments, repeating the same topic or question
- Difficulty with familiar tasks such as making tea, brushing teeth, using appliances
- Language difficulties, such as referring to common items as “thing” or “that”, or difficulty forming a long sentence or understanding instructions
- Confusion about time and place, such as suddenly not knowing where you are or why, or not knowing how to get home.
- Frequently forgetting the date or day
- Impaired judgement causing difficulty in judging distances, not taking usual precautions such as turning off the stove, wearing the wrong clothes for the season or driving erratically
- Changes in personality and mood, more irritable or agitated, more suspicious, being socially inappropriate, losing interest in usual activities or withdrawing socially
What Can You Do?
NeuroCentrix Memory Clinic offers a team of highly skilled clinicians to help you make informed choices about managing memory issues.
Recent research demonstrates that there are identifiable markers to indicate mild cognitive decline. Whilst there is no known cure for dementia, early intervention may slow the progress of cognitive decline. The first step in any treatment plan is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your cognitive function.
Neurocentrix Memory Clinic offers evidence-based assessment and advice that includes neuropsychological testing and assessment, consultations with our senior psychiatrists and referral for biomedical investigations including brain scans, if required.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown.
In some regions of the brain cells die off causing these areas to shrink. First affected is usually the outer layer of the brain, which results in diminished short-term memory. Problems remembering small details such as names, dates and words is often the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. As damage continues, deeper parts of the brain are affected. This leads to problems learning new information, using words and performing tasks.
What are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease usually begins with lapses in short term memory, difficulty in finding the right words, and social withdrawal. With time, these symptoms gradually become more severe. Deeper problems also emerge, such as forgetting familiar people or places, trouble using familiar objects, and trouble performing daily tasks. There may also be mood swings and personality changes.
How Do You Benefit by Participating in a Clinical Trial?
- Regular consultation with a specialist in memory disorders
- Supportive counselling for carers with experienced staff
- Discussing strategies for dealing with behavioural concerns
- Receiving early recommendations to support services
- Carers report that participation is a positive experience
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials provide the opportunity to gain access to new treatments that are being investigated as disease modifying therapies. They may delay the course of Alzheimer’s disease or protect the brain from further damage and could potentially improve a patient’s quality of life.
The increase in knowledge gained, even if a particular treatment doesn’t work, may help future generations.