The number of Dementia cases in India will grow from 3,843,118 in 2019 to 11,422,692 in 2050
(Acc. to a Lancet study from 2022)
Patients who get diagnosed with Dementia often get instantly overwhelmed. However, one must understand that they are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people worldwide get diagnosed with some form of Dementia. Out of all kinds of dementia, Alzheimer's Disease is the most common type.
India is also witnessing an increasing number of Dementia cases. The numbers are expected to grow even faster in the coming decades. It is why researchers in India are studying more about this condition. Hence trying every day to make it a little easier for people to manage it.
Read my blog below to learn all about Dementia the simple way. What it means, its causes, to its types, everything is right here. Let's try to understand what Alzheimer's disease is and how it is different from Dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a chronic or progressive syndrome. It results in degeneration in cognitive function. Although with age, the brain functioning of people gets reduced. But, when this fall in cognitive functioning is more than expected, a person is known to have Dementia. In easy language, people who suffer from this condition face problems with thinking. The symptoms affect memory, calculation, orientation, learning capacity to judgement and language. In the early stages, some people might also experience changes in behavior, and mood. Emotional control and motivation also changes drastically.
Dementia does not impact consciousness. However, its effects are not limited to the psychological and physical impacts. It also causes economic and social problems and affects a person's career and family. Due to its effects, most people resist getting it diagnosed. However, one must not fall for the stigma and get it diagnosed to start managing its symptoms.
Different types of Dementia
Dementia has multiple types, as listed below-
All the causes of Alzheimer's disease are still unknown. But, numerous studies suggest that mutations in three genes cause a small percentage. People with this disease often face issues with planning and doing regular tasks. One of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss.
Another type of Dementia is Vascular Dementia. One of the primary causes of this disease is the damage caused to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. Some common effects of this type of Dementia are- slowed thinking, loss of organization and focus, and issues with problem-solving.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
The abnormal balloon-like clumps of protein are known as Lewy bodies. Individuals with these bodies in their brains face Lewy body Dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. People with Lewy body Dementia experience symptoms that include- visual hallucinations, issues with focusing, slow movement, and lack of attention.
Parkinson's Disease Dementia
Around 50% to 80% of people with Parkinson's disease develop this type of Dementia after about ten years of being first affected by Parkinson's. The symptoms of Parkinson's disease Dementia are mostly similar to Lewy body Dementia.
Sometimes an individual develops a combination of different types of Dementia. It includes Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body Dementia, and Vascular Dementia. Patients with this case are said to have Mixed Dementia. Researchers are still studying to find out the symptoms of this type.
When the nerve cells and their connections in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain break down, Frontotemporal Dementia is caused. The most common symptoms of this type are issues with language and movement. These are followed by personality, behavior, thinking, and judgement.
People with Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Traumatic brain injury might also develop Dementia.
How is Alzheimer's disease different from Dementia?
Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are two terms that are usually used interchangeably. But you must know that these are not the same. Dementia itself is not a disease. It is an umbrella term for numerous symptoms affecting an individual's cognitive function. On the other hand, Alzheimer's disease is a disease specific to the brain. It is a type of Dementia that worsens with time. Initially, Alzheimer's disease impacts the brain cells and parts associated with learning. As soon as this disease starts progressing, it affects the person's behaviour, increases confusion, and results in numerous other symptoms.
Common causes of Dementia
The damage caused to nerve cells and their connection in the brain results in causing Dementia. Different people experience varying symptoms of Dementia as they depend on the damaged area of the brain.
Similarities among types of Dementia, such as the protein or proteins accumulated in the brain or the area of the brain affected, are frequently used to categorize them. Some disorders, such as those brought on by drug interactions or vitamin shortages, cause dementia. These types can disappear with the treatment of the disease that has caused them.
Is Dementia curable?
Numerous individuals wish to know if Dementia, like Alzheimer's disease, is curable. Unfortunately, to date, progressive Dementias have no cure. So, if your question is - Is Alzheimer's disease curable? The answer is 'No.' Presently, none of the progressive Dementias can be cured.
As varying causes cause Dementia, it might be difficult to find a single cure to the disease in the future as well. There are only certain medicines that assist in managing its symptoms.
The reversible types of Dementia that are caused due to an infection or other disorders. These disorders include Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Parkinson's disease. These can be cured when these diseases are identified and treated.
Dementia is a disorder that affects the daily life of the suffering individual. Dementia does not have a cure currently. If it is a type of progressive Dementia, the symptoms can be managed using various medications. If one of your loved ones is showing any signs indicating Dementia, you must get them immediately diagnosed to start with their medications.
See you next week with another medical topic made easy for you.
The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.