Dementia has ‘hidden’ symptoms and here’s how to tell if you have them: eat this, not that

Dementia has ‘hidden’ symptoms and here’s how to tell if you have them: eat this, not that

Dementia is a paralyzing brain disorder that can dramatically affect cognitive functions such as language, memory, and decision-making ability to the point of interfering with daily life. Additionally, someone with dementia may experience personality changes, and some people with the condition may not control their emotions. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of neurological symptoms that affect the brain and get progressively worse over time and depending on Alzheimer’s disease international“There are more than 100 forms of dementia, and the most well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.”

the Alzheimer’s Association states: “Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs due to microscopic bleeding and blockage of blood vessels in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia. Those who experience brain changes from multiple types of dementia simultaneously have mixed dementia. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.”

Dementia is a common condition that primarily affects people over the age of 65, but it is not a normal part of aging and younger people can also get dementia. There are many familiar signs of dementia, such as memory loss, being more in familiar areas or environments, and having difficulty with usual tasks. But there are other signs to watch out for and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Paul E. Schulz, MD, neurologist at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center who explains what to know about dementia and the hidden symptoms to watch out for.

Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.

Tired mature woman taking off glasses suffering from headache

Dr. Schulz explains: “Normal aging definitely causes changes in cognition. We say that between the ages of 20 and 85, our concentration drops by about 40%. And concentration is the first step in memory and word search.” So everyone over the age of 50-60 notices, because we’re down 20% already, that our memory and word search aren’t what they used to be. Not to personalize it too much, but if I didn’t study dementia, I’d worry that I have early dementia because I see changes in memory and finding words in myself.

We ask people if:

Your memory is worse than that of your spouse and friends, who are often the same age; Your spouse, coworkers, and friends have told you something about being forgetful, etc. If none of these people notice a difference between a patient and people of the same age, often their tests show that they only have age-associated memory. disability. That means that the person is on the same slope as all of us. It is when tests show that someone falls below the “normal rate of decline” that we become concerned and investigate further. Changes with age in wisdom (eg, judgment, abstract reasoning, insight) and visuospatial function (finding a house, a restaurant, the hairdresser, the grocery store, etc.) are less common. So, if someone has a change in behavior (lack of judgment, spends irrationally, is the victim of a scam, etc.) or gets lost going to the store, etc., then we think less about getting older and worry more about a change in behavior. brain. For me, it’s a lot like jogging. I practice a lot, but the younger riders still beat me all the time.”

Portrait of a worried mature woman having problems with her finances

Dr. Schulz shares: “Dementia is very, very common. 6 million Americans alone have Alzheimer’s. A few million have other dementias. And we may be diagnosing only a percentage of those with dementia due to problems accessing information.” medical care. Doesn’t respect gender, nationality, intelligence, etc. We have people in the clinic from all walks of life. That includes even fellow doctors. It can show up at any age. It’s more common as we get older.

We say that 1% at age 60 has dementia, doubling every 5 years to 32% at age 85. But we also see patients who are between 40 and 50 years old. Obviously, when we see younger clients, we look more thoroughly for causes of dementia other than neurodegenerative disorders. For example, we want to rule out autoimmune diseases, infections, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid deficiencies, etc.”

Upset frustrated man reading bad news on cell phone

Dr. Schulz emphasizes: “Dementia creeps in insidiously. Over a number of years, it can include episodes of forgetting some things and remembering others. So it often doesn’t reach the level of recognition until it’s very obvious.” Considering that all our treatments work best when started very early, we feel very distressed when we see new patients who have progressed well before seeing us. The patient with early dementia often does not recognize it. They seem to forget that they forget. In fact, when a spouse says a person is forgetful, the more vehemently the patient denies it, the more we suspect it’s real. Lack of recognition, then, is a very common part of a person’s presentation with dementia.

Because of this, it can be very difficult to get people to come see us. This morning we had a patient who is in the middle of Alzheimer’s disease, and she was not brought in earlier, when we could do more, because she was embarrassed that someone did a test on her a few years ago. It’s a tremendous missed opportunity. It is nobody’s fault. It’s just that we’re human and we don’t always want to know about something like dementia, especially when we don’t see it. After an hour with her, the patient told me that she’s sure this is just normal aging and she’s not sure if she needs to be evaluated.”

Senior woman in consultation with her doctor or therapist

According to Dr. Schulz, “Depression that is long-standing and untreated appears to be a risk. Therefore, we suggest treating someone with depression as much as possible (I say this because not all people with depression respond to current medications and procedures.) It’s less easy to show that treating depression prevents dementia, but we all think it’s probably true.

Hearing loss often causes a person to miss or misunderstand conversations. At a minimum, hearing loss contributes to cognitive decline in dementia. It’s not clear if hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia, rather than just appearing to have it.

Cardiovascular risk factors. We and others have many studies showing that traditional cardiovascular risk factors (those for stroke, heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease) also accelerate the progression of dementia. That’s why we measure many of them in our Center for Neurocognitive Disorders every day. We monitor cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, blood fat (triglycerides), weight (BMI) and others.

Concussions have been in the news in recent years, and they really seem to increase the risk of dementia. So wear a helmet when you ski or bike, wear your seat belt in your car, etc.

Physical and mental exercise, in the other direction, is thought to protect against dementia.

Genetics is currently a non-modifiable risk factor, but it may be significant. The good news is that you can still reduce your risk of familial dementia by controlling your risk factors. But it will be a while before we can change the risk factor genes.”

Senior hispanic man suffering from dementia trying to get dressed

Dr Schulz says: “It is challenging to decide whether dementia is more common now than in the past because: People often hide loved ones with dementia because it is seen as reflecting a poor image of the family. Some ethnic groups in Texas they still do. Through no one’s fault, many cultures believe that dementia is shameful, so we don’t see these patients at all or, if we do, we see them very late when families are desperate.

We knew very little about dementia just a few years ago. In the 1960s we talked about hardening of the arteries. In the 1970s we began to talk about normal aging for those over 65, and we only defined dementia when it was present in younger people. Then we found out in the 1980s that dementia is not “normal aging.” And over the last 30 years, we’ve discovered that not all dementia is due to Alzheimer’s disease. We have now identified many other types.

So looking at records that are more than 10 or 20 years old often leads to not being sure what someone had. In addition, we are now much more likely to identify dementia (except that some people with signs of dementia still do not come to the clinic). For those who come to the clinic, we’ve gotten a lot better at being able to diagnose them and give a solid answer about what’s going on. This starts with people seeing their primary care doctor, many of whom are now aware of dementia-related issues and are undergoing screening tests. So more people are caught earlier.

On the other hand, the Framingham Heart Study, which has been following people for decades, reported that for every age, the risk of dementia is decreasing. However, because more people are living longer, thank God, it means that many more people are at risk of dementia. A simple way to think about this is that when humans didn’t live very long, people didn’t get to be old enough to be at significant risk of dementia. So the bottom line is that we certainly see more dementia patients now, but it’s very hard to say whether that means it’s more common, or that we’re living longer, or that we see more of our doctors and they’re sensitive to the huge problem of dementia. dementia”.

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