There are several conditions which can cause dementia. Some of them are more frequent than others, some progress faster, and some can be reversed while others can’t. Each of these causes can affect different parts of the brain. Here are some of the main causes of dementia.
What is Dementia?
he term “dementia” doesn’t refer to a specific illness; instead, it is used to describe symptoms comprising a broad spectrum of brain diseases which are severe enough to affect a person’s daily life.
Dementia affects a person’s cognitive functions, such as memory, language, thinking, and orientation, amongst other aspects of their life, such as emotional control, and social behavior.
Dementia has become more common as life expectancies grow longer, and it is one of the more common causes of disability in the elderly.
What Causes Dementia?
Although the exact causes for many of the diseases which cause dementia haven’t been discovered, there are certain risk factors which can increase a person’s chance of suffering from dementia. These risk factors include:
- Age: this is the most important risk factor. Dementia is very infrequent in people below the age of 60 years old, but by 80 years old it becomes very common, and it has been estimated that it affects nearly half of people over 90 years old.
- Genetics: certain genes can increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- It has been theorized that suffering from diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, and unhealthy habits such as smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the chance of suffering from dementia later on in life.
How is Dementia Diagnosed?
Since dementia isn’t a specific disease, but rather a group of illnesses which cause certain symptoms, it is understandable that there isn’t a single test to diagnose it.
Doctors will review a patient’s history to check for symptoms which point to cognitive impairment; if necessary, the patient will be referred to another specialist, such as a geriatrician, psychiatrist, or neurologist.
Tests are usually carried out to determine the extent of the impairment and to rule out reversible causes of dementia. Brain scanning techniques, such as PET scans, can be used to determine which part of the brain has been affected; however, in some cases it is not possible to point to the exact cause of dementia.
The mini mental state examination (MMSE) is used to assess a patient’s cognitive functioning. There are other tests available for this purpose, such as the abbreviated mental test score (AMTS), the clock drawing test, and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA).
There is no cure for the non-reversible causes of dementia; however, current treatments can help slow its progression and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Access to therapy is important after diagnosis, to make sure the patient is offered help in dealing with the disease and doesn’t develop anxiety or depression. Therapy can also help keep the patient’s mind active, retain skills, and relearn how to perform daily activities. Different types of therapy used in dementia include: reminiscence therapy, cognitive reframing, validation therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Other activities should be offered to the patient to make sure they stay active both mentally and physically, such as music, art, gardening, dancing, and exercise, amongst others.
Medication can’t cure dementia, but it can be used to treat its symptoms. Some of these medications include:
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: these drugs may be useful in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, DLB, by increasing the levels of acetylcholine. They include donezepil, rivastigmine, and galantamine.
- N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockers: such as memantine, this medication is also used to treat Alzheimer’s, and it has been shown to slow the progression of symptoms in some cases. It works by reducing the amounts of glutamate in the brain.
- Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, are contraindicated in dementia, since they can worsen the cognitive impairment.
Since the condition of patients with dementia worsens over time, palliative care is an option that must be considered to help patients and their loved ones cope with dementia once it has reached a terminal stage.
Dementia Clinical Trials
Clinical trials for dementia and the conditions that cause it aim to discover ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat it. There are also trials that aim to find ways to improve dementia patients’ quality of life.
Treatment clinical trials have two aims: to discover therapeutic options that can reduce symptoms, and slow or stop the progression of the disease. Diagnostic studies try to find new ways to diagnose dementia in its early stages, and to better identify risk factors so that the condition can be diagnosed even before the patient starts to display symptoms. There are also prevention trials, which look for ways to prevent the disease from developing at all.
Many patients choose to participate in clinical trials to take control of their health, and to gain access to care provided by experts in the field. Clinical trials are led by a team of specialists, researchers, and healthcare personnel, and the patient can choose to leave the trial at any point.
ClinicalTrials.gov: Recruiting Studies | dementia | Last update posted in the last 300 days Studies found on ClinicalTrials.gov by a search of: Recruiting Studies | dementia | Last update posted in the last 300 days
PET Imaging of Cyclooxygenases in Dementia
on May 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: DementiaInterventions: Drug: 11C-MC1; Drug: 11C-PS13Sponsor: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)Recruiting
A Study of the Biodistribution and Safety of [18F]GTP1 in Healthy Japanese Participants
on May 19, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Alzheimer DiseaseIntervention: Diagnostic Test: [18F]GTP1Sponsors: Genentech, Inc.; InvicroRecruiting
Couple and Spouse Caregiver in Huntington's Disease
on May 19, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Huntington DiseaseIntervention: Sponsor: University Hospital, LilleRecruiting
PTI-125, 100 mg, for Mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's Disease Patients
on May 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Alzheimer DiseaseIntervention: Drug: PTI-125, 100 mg tabletSponsors: Cassava Sciences, Inc.; National Institute on Aging (NIA)Recruiting
Multimodal Imaging in the Study of Disorientation in the Hospital
on May 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Mild Cognitive Impairment; Dementia; Disorientation; Older Adults; Magnetic Resonance ImagingIntervention: Sponsors: University Medical Center Rostock; German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)Recruiting
Effect of Hearing Loss and Vestibular Decline on Cognitive Function in Older Subjects
on May 12, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Hearing Loss, Sensorineural; Bilateral Vestibulopathy; Alzheimer Disease; Mild Cognitive ImpairmentIntervention: Other: Longitudinal follow-upSponsors: University Hospital, Antwerp; Universiteit AntwerpenRecruiting
Efficacy of Hypnosis on Pain and Anxiety During Lumbar Puncture for Etiological Diagnosis of Cognitive Impairment
on April 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Cognitive Impairment; Alzheimer's DiseaseIntervention: Behavioral: HypnosisSponsor: Gérond'ifRecruiting
Study Assessing Efficacy and Safety of AKST4290 in Subjects With Parkinson's Disease on Stable Dopaminergic Treatment
on April 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Parkinson DiseaseInterventions: Drug: AKST4290; Drug: PlaceboSponsor: Alkahest, Inc.Recruiting
ARTFL LEFFTDS Longitudinal Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (ALLFTD)
on April 27, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD); Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP); Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD); Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD); Semantic Variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (svPPA); Nonfluent Variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (nfvPPA); FTD With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (FTD/ALS); Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Oligosymptomatic PSP (oPSP)Intervention: Sponsors: Mayo Clinic; University of California, San Francisco; National Institute on Aging (NIA); National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)Recruiting
Cognitive Impairment in Ageing People
on April 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: MCI; Alzheimer Disease; VAD - Vascular Dementia; Cognitive ImpairmentIntervention: Sponsor: Yamei TangRecruiting
Induction and Recognition of Emotions
on April 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Healthy Older Adults; Alzheimer's Disease; Parkinson's DiseaseInterventions: Diagnostic Test: Mini Cognitive Examination (MCE); Diagnostic Test: Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II); Diagnostic Test: Global Deterioration Scale (GDS); Diagnostic Test: Memory alteration test ([email protected]); Diagnostic Test: Spanish-Complutense Verbal Learning Test (TAVEC); Diagnostic Test: Barcelona test (BT); Diagnostic Test: Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT); Diagnostic Test: Frontal assessment battery (FAB); Diagnostic Test: Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS); Diagnostic Test: Auto-Assessment Manikins (SAM)Sponsors: University of Valencia; Asociación Parkinson ValenciaRecruiting
Home-based Cognitive Monitoring in MCI
on April 17, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Mild Cognitive ImpairmentIntervention: Diagnostic Test: home-based cognitive monitoringSponsor: Asan Medical CenterRecruiting
- Seek professional help to help you cope with your diagnosis and the changes you are experiencing.
- Make sure to communicate your needs to those closest to you so that they know how to help you.
- Maintain a lifestyle that’s as active as possible, both physically and psychologically.
- Allow yourself to grieve after your diagnosis, but don’t let dementia define who you are.
- Think about your plans for the future. Talk to your loved ones about your wishes, and consider going to a lawyer to plan your financial future.
- Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it.
- Take time to accept and cope with your loved one’s diagnosis.
- Show affection to your loved one and be reassuring.
- Create a safe and understanding environment and prepare for future changes in your loved one’s condition.
- Simplify daily tasks and activities when necessary, by breaking them down into smaller steps that are more manageable for your loved one.
- Make sure to have people there to help, whether they are family members, friends or healthcare professionals.
- Consider therapy to help you cope with the changes occurring in your life.
- Dementia. Mayo Clinic (Aug 2nd,2017) Recovered from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013
- Dementia. World Health Organization (December, 2017). Recovered from https://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs362/en/