Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA, can help if you or a loved one is struggling with dementia.
The term dementia means a decline in cognition or memory. Dementia is not a disease itself, but a word for the effects on memory and thinking that are caused by either brain damage or diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease. These changes are significant enough to impact a patient's daily life and ability to be independent.
Anyone can be forgetful, so how is someone evaluated? There are lots of unofficial tests available online, but doctors use a series of tests to determine if there is a truly impaired memory. If you think you have memory problems, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor.
In the beginning stages of dementia, a close family member or friend usually notices memory loss in the patient first. Often they'll notice the patient repeating the same questions or getting confused by familiar people. There are several progressive stages of dementia. A patient is evaluated using a test called a Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST). The stages range from memory loss to complete loss of speech. Specific signs of dementia may vary depending on the cause, but there are common symptoms:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty with language and communication
- Impaired judgment,
- Any trouble with spatial abilities (getting lost)
- Personality changes
Symptoms of dementia worsen gradually. The changes may happen quickly or very slowly over time. The progression and outcomes vary, depending on the type of dementia the patient has and which part of the brain is affected. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are several types of dementia that are all different depending on the cause. Lewy body dementia is caused by a buildup of a certain protein that damages brain cells, and vascular dementia is caused when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. Mixed dementia is a combination of at least two types of dementia. Discovering the exact type of dementia can help pinpoint possible treatments. There is no cure for dementia but in some cases when caught early on, the progression of symptoms can be slowed.
Living with dementia also takes an emotional toll, and can lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem. The symptoms can be confusing and upsetting not just for the patient, but also for family members and caregivers. Caregivers to patients with dementia often have their own stress and anxiety and need support.
If you are having memory problems or are concerned for a loved one, give Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA, a call at (540) 667-1828.