You’ve spent your life creating memories with loved ones and storing them away to cherish forever, and you look forward to being present for many more to come. Losing even a small piece of your ability to experience and remember the best parts of life can be tragic. That’s why it’s important that you catch symptoms of dementia in its earliest stages so our medical professionals can give you the treatment you need.
At Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates, our team of experienced psychiatrists and psychotherapists led by Dr. Ronald Winfield are trained in identifying your dementia symptoms and causes and providing you with the right plan of action so you can enjoy life for as long as possible.
What is dementia?
Dementia isn’t a disease in and of itself but a group of symptoms that affect your cognitive and psychological functions leading to memory loss. It’s caused by nerve damage or loss that’s so severe it severs connections in the brain. Dementia looks different for every person and can affect different areas of the brain.
Spotting the signs of dementia
While memory loss is the main indicator of dementia, memory loss doesn’t always mean you have dementia. If your memory loss is accompanied by the following changes and symptoms, you likely have dementia:
- Difficulty communicating or finding words
- Trouble with reasoning or problem-solving
- Inability to handle complex tasks
- Struggles with planning and organizing
- Loss of coordination or motor functions
- Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities
- New or worsening confusion and disorientation
Dementia can also bring on certain psychological changes like changes in personality, depression, anxiety, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation, and even hallucinations.
You might not be the one to notice the changes in your ability to think, remember, and behave normally. It’s likely that a spouse or close friend will warn you of the symptoms.
Causes of dementia
There are two kinds of dementia: progressive and reversible. In some cases, dementia caused by exposure to poison or toxins, certain infections, and brain tumors can be treated and reversed. In other more severe cases, your dementia is a warning sign of an underlying condition that is progressive and irreversible.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. Approximately 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s-related dementia. Although it’s not understood what exactly causes this disease, it’s likely due to genetic mutation and a buildup of tau protein in the brain.
There are other conditions that result in the telltale signs of dementia including:
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Mixed dementia
- Huntington’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
You’re also at risk for developing dementia symptoms if you’re of advanced age, you have a family history of dementia, or you have Down syndrome. Other lifestyle factors like poor diet, lack of exercise, cardiovascular issues, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, sleep apnea, and vitamin deficiencies put you at a greater risk for developing dementia.
Treating your dementia
If left untreated, dementia can lead to serious health complications. You might neglect your nutrition, basic daily tasks, and personal hygiene. Dementia can lead to difficulty swallowing, and this increases your chances of choking or developing illnesses like pneumonia.
While dementia may not be curable in most cases, there are ways to manage your symptoms and make daily life easier.
You’ll begin with a complete psychiatric and neurological evaluation to assess the cause and degree of your dementia. Our doctors may order CT, MRI, or other imaging tests to get a better idea of the extent of your condition.
From there we create your treatment plan. This often includes medications that help regulate brain activity and boost the level of chemical messengers in your brain. Medications can also be used to manage the underlying conditions that are causing your dementia.
We can also guide you toward healthy lifestyle modifications and therapies that will support your overall health, help you to control symptoms, and simplify your daily routine.
Dementia doesn’t have to mean the end of life as you know it. We can help you catch it early and support you with the best care and treatment possible. If you’d like more information or suspect you or a loved one needs to be evaluated for dementia, call our office or schedule an appointment online today.