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Cirnix RX-How can you test for dementia at home?

by fiona basil (2021-11-02)

Dementia is not a normal aging symptom that affects all adults. Dementia is a disease that typically occurs in old age but is not a condition of age.

Dementia is one of the diseases that most commonly affects in old age: the loss of mental and functional capacity affects thousands of people worldwide. There is no cure yet and all the causes are not known. However, there are new therapies and care options for people with this condition.

Dementia syndrome

The world talks about "dementia", but in reality the disease is called " dementia syndrome ". Because this syndrome is a collection of different symptoms, which are what ultimately cause the disease to occur.

Those who suffer from dementia syndrome gradually lose their mental and intellectual abilities. Memory, thinking, language, and practical skills are constantly deteriorating.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines dementia syndrome as a consequence of a chronic or progressive brain disease that has several serious consequences:

  • It leads to disorders of memory, thinking, orientation, conception, arithmetic, the ability to learn, language, speech, and judgment.
  • Symptoms must persist for at least 6 months.
  • There are also changes in emotional control, social behavior, or motivation.

By the way, the term "dementia" comes from Latin and means "without spirit", "without understanding". That sounds dramatic, but it in no way describes the clinical picture of this syndrome.


Currently, more than 45 million people around the world suffer from dementia. According to experts, this number is expected to triple by 2050. According to estimates, 40,000 people a year are diagnosed in Germany, approximately 100 per day. The majority (90%) of them have Alzheimer's disease.

Basically, the risk of developing dementia increases with age. However, statistically speaking, it happens mostly in older people. Only 1.6% of people aged 65 to 69 suffer from the syndrome, those over 90 already have 40.95%. Two-thirds of people with dementia are over 80 years old, and 80% are women.

Senile dementia - a colloquial term

Dementia is one of the most common diseases of old age, which is why the term “senile dementia” has become commonplace. However, the term is "nebulous" because there is no "senile dementia" as a medical term for a specific disease. "Senile dementia" is a more colloquial term due to the fact that older people especially suffer from dementia.

Although most people only develop dementia at a later age, there are unfortunately exceptions. A 20, 30, 40 or 50 year old dementia is rare, but it is by no means impossible.

Above all, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), in which brain cells in the frontal brain or temporal lobe (temporal brain) die, can also affect younger people.

It is rare for 5-10% of all dementia cases to occur, but the changes hit people particularly hard, because they lead to abnormalities in personality, behavior, and language. In fact, frontotemporal dementias often occur between the ages of 50 and 60, but can start in your 20s or 30s.

Forms of dementia: primary and secondary

"Dementia" is a collective term for a variety of diseases that vary widely but affect mental performance. The first fundamental distinction of the different dementias is between primary (organic / cortical brain) and secondary (non-organic brain) dementia.

Neurodegenerative dementia

Doctors describe diseases of the nervous system as "neurodegenerative" in which neurons are lost (neurodegeneration). That is exactly what this syndrome is. Whether protein deposits damage nerve cells (as in Alzheimer's disease) or strokes (as in vascular dementia), the consequences are similar: nerve cell communication is impaired.

Neurodegenerative dementias include:

  • Alzheimer disease.
  • Frontotemporal dementia.
  • Lewy body dementia.

In Alzheimer's disease or dementia with Lewy bodies, the cause is the same: it involves protein deposits in the nerve cells of the brain. These deposits make it difficult for nerve cells to communicate. Poor memory, speech problems, orientation difficulties are the symptoms shared by both diseases.

Frontoremporal dementia: In contrast to Alzheimer's disease, the social behavior of those affected is particularly affected: some people suddenly become aggressive, although they were always quite calm. They are irritable and are quite cold and dismissive towards their fellow man.

These are all derailments that only attract attention when they pile up and are incompatible with the character of the person in question. Only when language skills are impaired and also when memory and orientation abilities decline, the suspicion of dementia is close. Behavioral problems are caused by the fact that neurodegeneration occurs first in those regions of the brain that control social behavior.

Vascular dementia

Circulatory disorders in the brain can trigger the so-called vascular dementia, when the blood vessels supplying the brain become narrow or even clogged. Nerve cells no longer get enough blood and die (neurodegeneration). Sometimes, it is a series of many small strokes that lead to dementia - multi-infarct dementia.

In a large stroke, the symptoms are almost obvious. But with smaller strokes (multi-infarct dementia), they can go unnoticed for a long time.

Vascular dementias include:

  • Multi-infarct dementia.
  • Binswanger's disease.
  • Dementia in Parkinson's.

Symptoms and signs

There is not just one type of dementia, but a whole series of different types of brain-related syndromes and diseases. In this regard, it is always difficult to identify dementia at a very early stage and consult a doctor. There are the following symptoms and signs that may be indicating it:

  • Affected people forget where they put their glasses, wallets, or keys, and then find them in unusual places (for example, in the fridge).
  • They can no longer cope with everyday tasks, although they always knew how to get around (for example, the way to the supermarket).
  • Those affected find it difficult to read a newspaper article or a book because they can no longer remember what they read.
  • They cannot remember the words for everyday objects.
  • It is increasingly difficult for people to follow conversations. Every time they forget more than what their interlocutor has just said.
  • Those affected have less and less desire to do something. Everything is too much for them and they would like to do nothing.
  • The symptoms and signs of dementia are very different. Persistent restlessness, tiredness, sudden aggression, or even hallucinations can be evidence of dementia.

Dementia or depression?

Sometimes depression has symptoms that are very similar to those of dementia: general aversion, memory and concentration problems.

But all these symptoms are not triggered by decomposition processes in the brain in depression, but by the psyche of the affected person. Therefore, it is important to find out if there really is dementia or depression.

Depression is treatable in many cases, so the symptoms are reversible. In contrast to dementia, symptoms of depression also appear suddenly, possibly after a severe crisis situation.

Prevention of dementia

Depending on the type of dementia, the disease can be prevented or not. Alzheimer's disease cannot be avoided, since against the degradation of nerve cells, there is no remedy.

The situation is different in vascular dementia, whose cause is constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels. The risks can be identified, and sometimes even reduced.

Smoking and obesity damage blood vessels and are at least largely preventable. High blood pressure can also be controlled. Chronic alcohol abuse increases the risk of developing dementia. Various heart diseases, such as heart failure or arrhythmia, can also be effectively treated.

Not all risks can be completely avoided, but, nevertheless, dementia can be at least partially prevented. The biggest risk factors for dementia are:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias (6 to 18 times higher risk)
  • Hypertension (4 to 6 times higher risk)
  • Heart disease (2-4 times higher risk)
  • Diabetes (2-3 times higher risk)
  • Alcohol addiction (2-3 times higher risk)
  • High cholesterol (2 times higher risk)
  • Obesity (1 to 2 times higher risk)

How to prevent dementia

You can do something, even against the risk of dementia:

  1. Nutritionally balanced, with a large amount of unsaturated fatty acids, rich in vitamins (especially vitamin D should act as a preventive) and you must be aware of calories.
  2. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  3. Move regularly. Even a daily walk is a good prevention.
  4. Check your blood pressure regularly.
  5. Take an active role in old age, participate and stay in touch with others.
  6. Train your brain: be it with crossword puzzles, mental exercise or learning a foreign language. So stay mentally fit.

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