Dementia is a group of major neurological disorders that affect the brain and its functions. The most common types of dementia include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, vascular, and Lewy body dementia. Slowly and gradually, the disorder worsens. Treatment involves drug therapy (to slow down the process and reduce symptoms) and various supportive therapies (occupational therapy, social involvement, mental activity, etc.).
Neurologists describe dementia as a broad group of symptoms that define brain damage (cognitive and functional). Other pathologies always cause this condition. Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia (up to 80% of cases).
Neurologists classify dementia into three types, depending on which part of the brain is affected.
- Cortical - the lesion is located in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for memory and speech. Alzheimer's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease represent this group of dementias.
- Subcortical - the problem is in the structures under the cerebral cortex, which affects the speed of thought and movement. Representatives of this type of dementia are Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease.
- Mixed - simultaneous damage to both parts of the brain, both cortical and subcortical (most often, it is dementia with Lewy bodies).
It is a relatively rare illness in people younger than 65. However, people over 65 are vulnerable. Approximately 5-8% of older adults have dementia worldwide. Almost 1 in 10 people over 65 have this condition, and 3 out of 10 are over 85 years.
The signs of dementia vary and may not be evident in the early stages. However, warning symptoms to watch out for include forgetfulness, personality and mood changes (paranoia, anxiety, depression), difficulty doing everyday tasks (laundry, paying bills, cooking), and difficulty understanding speech and coordination.
There is no complete and fast cure for dementia. Instead, physicians treat the disease that causes dementia to reduce its signs. In 20% of cases, it is reversible. In other 80% of situations, dementia usually progresses over time and treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms.
Doctors involve drug therapy to reduce cognitive and functional decline. Recommended practices for good dementia care include social engagement that can enhance the quality of life. The family are an essential part of the care. Dementia issues require simple tasks and constant supervision by relatives or nurses. In addition, some doctors might recommend stem cell therapy and alternative approaches (art and pet therapy, massage and light exercise) as a treatment for dementia.
Each person with dementia is unique. The prognosis depends significantly on age, the type of dementia, the disease that causes it, and adequate care. Life expectancy after diagnosis varies from 5 years (for vascular dementia) to 20 years or more.
Where can I get Dementia treatment?
What are the best clinics for Dementia treatment?
Who are the best doctors for Dementia?
Prof. Dr. med. Christian E. Elger from Beta Clinic Bonn
Prof. Dr. med. Bernhard Hemmer from University Hospital rechts der Isar Munich
PD. Dr. med. Florian Masuhr from Academic Hospital Bundeswehr Berlin
PD. Dr. med. Axel Lipp from Park Clinic Weissensee Berlin
Dr. med. Gerhard Siebenhuner from Centre of Advanced Medicine Frankfurt am Main