What the heck is dementia?
We usually think of “dementia” as simply memory loss, but it is much more than that. The term “dementia” is defined as having memory loss AND difficulty in one other area such as:
These symptoms must interfere with independence and quality of life to be considered to be consistent with dementia.
What causes this horrible disease?
There are several diseases that affect the brain which can result in dementia.
What tests should you have?
The first step is to have a conversation with your primary care doctor. There are a few blood tests you might discuss, like thyroid levels, B12, and other blood tests. Imaging may include CT or MRI brain. There are various other experimental imaging studies that are under investigation. Finally, a lumbar puncture might be needed as well to analyze the spinal fluid. Again, the best place to start is with talking with your primary care doctor.
How can you treat this disease?
It all depends on the type of disease. There are a few medications that may help with quality of life and memory. Unfortunately, there are no treatments that can halt the progression of the disease. Clinical trials help us find a cure and current trials are testing medications that block the progression of the disease.
To decrease the risk of developing dementia, follow a healthy dose of physical activity, a healthy diet, and engage in social interaction. As simple as this may sound, these 3 recommendations can be difficult to complete consistently. Genetics may also play a role in developing dementia. Unfortunately, there are no genetic tests that are validated that accurately predict the development of dementia.
Cherish each and every moment. Live with gratitude.