Dementia is a category of diseases related to slow functioning of the brain in which the patient shows signs of gradual decline in the ability to think and remember. This category of disease affects the daily functioning of an individual.
It is a progressive disease and causes a gradual decline in the patient's condition. It is also possible for one person to be affected by more than one type of dementia. Though, there is no cure for dementia, those suffering from it can lead a good life if proper rehabilitation is provided.
The population of Dementia patients is increasing day by day and the number is expected to double in the next 15 years. There are very few centres available for dementia care in our country.
Patients of dementia usually present with the following symptoms:
- Forgetfulness – more of recent memory.
- Impaired thinking ability and impaired social skills, which interfere with daily
- Impaired memory, speaking ability, decreased motivation.
Onset of dementia is gradual and generally progressive. The common types of dementia are:
- Alzheimer’s which is the most common form
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy Body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
Dementia is usually diagnosed by giving the patient a test for cognitive functions such as Mini Mental State Examination.
There is no cure for Dementia, but following steps can be taken to manage it:
- Cholinesterase inhibitor drugs like Donepezil may be effective in mild to moderate
- Symptomatic treatment of associated problems should be given.
- Exercises related to daily living is important.
- Yoga might help.
Following steps need to be taken to prevent dementia:
- Education of the family.
- Social awareness of the community.
- Effective control of chronic diseases like hypertension.
- Awareness regarding physical exercise.
- Social interaction should be encouraged.
As far as possible, dementia patients should be kept in a home environment, surrounded by relatives and loved ones. As the disease progresses, they might need institutionalised care. The advantage of providing a homely environment is:
- Such patients can be forgetful and at times forget to perform daily chores like eating, taking bath, etc. Hence, they require extra care.
- Proper emotional and physical support provided at home is of paramount importance.
When it comes to dementia, it is always recommended that professional care be provided to the patient. Home care is often not possible due to following reasons:
- Nuclear working family.
- Family members not equipped to handle challenges.
- Sometimes dementia patients leave their houses and forget their way back. A caregiver must be present at home or the family members are forced to lock the dementia patient.
Dr Rekha Khandelwal of Vardaan Senior Center in Malviya Nagar, Delhi says that in an institution such persons can find emotional support and meet people with similar issues. So far family members must play the role of caregiver for patients, but because of changing lifestyle and migrating families, there is a need for dementia care centres so that the loved ones can lead a normal life and the family members are also relieved.