Dementia is a term used to describe a group of cognitive symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and the ability to perform daily tasks. It is not a single disease but rather a range of conditions that occur due to different neurocognitive conditions.
There are many different types of dementia; these are:
Over time, you or your loved one may struggle to recognise familiar faces and places, or even remember recent events. Dementia can also impact your emotional state, causing mood swings and behavioural changes.
Dementia significantly affects your quality of life and requires ongoing care and support. Early diagnosis and proper management, including medication and therapeutic interventions, can help slow its progression and improve the overall well-being of those affected.
The exact cause of dementia is not always clear; however, it is often linked to brain cell damage and abnormal protein deposits. Causes of dementia generally involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. In some cases, specific diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or Lewy body dementia are responsible for the condition.
You may inherit certain genetic mutations that increase your risk of developing certain types of dementia. Additionally, factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to vascular issues that affect brain health. Brain injuries or infections may also play a role.
The underlying mechanisms involve the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, which interfere with cell communication and lead to cell death. While you cannot control your genetic predisposition, a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk.
Symptoms of dementia include:
Dementia itself is not typically a physically painful condition. However, the emotional and psychological aspects of dementia, such as confusion, frustration, and the awareness of memory loss, can lead to distress and discomfort. While physical pain is not a direct symptom of dementia, managing the emotional challenges that arise from the condition is crucial. If you or a loved one is experiencing these emotional difficulties, seeking support and care from healthcare professionals and support networks can significantly improve overall well-being.
In Singapore, several factors contribute to the risk of dementia.
While certain risk factors are beyond your control, adopting a healthy lifestyle, staying mentally and socially active, managing chronic health conditions and seeking regular medical check-ups can help reduce your risk of dementia in Singapore.
Diagnosing dementia involves a comprehensive assessment by your neurosurgeon; these assessments include:
Collaboration between doctors, neurologists, and neuropsychologists is common for an accurate diagnosis. While there is no definitive test for dementia, the combination of clinical evaluations, medical history, and test results will help determine the type of dementia and its underlying causes.
In Singapore, the treatment for dementia focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. While there is no cure, several approaches can help; these are:
No, dementia is not a normal part of ageing. While some mild memory changes are typical as you age, significant cognitive decline and behavioural changes that interfere with daily life are not a regular aspect of getting older. If you or someone you know is experiencing such changes, seeking medical evaluation is advisable.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, certain lifestyle choices may lower the risk. Staying mentally active through puzzles, reading and learning, maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing cardiovascular health and staying socially connected can contribute to overall brain health as you age.
The progression of dementia varies, but it generally involves a gradual decline in cognitive abilities and daily functioning. Early stages may involve mild memory lapses, while advanced stages can lead to significant memory loss, difficulty with communication and the need for constant care. Seeking early diagnosis and support is important.