Soon as the egg gets fertilized in mother’s womb, the process of aging begins. It continues throughout life till death. You may refer aging as a journey from womb to tomb. Senile dementia is a condition that occurs in the later years of life. It is a geriatric problem not related to ordinary dementia.
Dementia is failure of mind to carry on its function. Senile dementia is mental deterioration associated with aging. It is caused as a result of degeneration of brain cells. The process is gradual and slow which may result in memory loss, failure of intellect and other cognitive functions. It is a disease process of central nervous system.
What Are The Causes Of Senile Dementia?
Senile dementia always results as a consequence of underlying condition or a disorder.
- The commonest cause is Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused due to generalized atrophy of the brain. The second cause is vascular problems giving rise to strokes and multi infarcts in the brain. Almost 20% of people over the age of 80 are vulnerable to Alzheimer disease.
- Parkinson’s disease: there is degeneration of a part of central nervous system.
- Atherosclerosis resulting from aging process may reduce the supply of blood to the brain cell. This may give rise to symptoms of senile dementia.
- Jakob –Creuzfeld disease: it is a fast progressing degenerative brain cell disorder which may affect a person’s walking, talking etc.
- Pick complex: it is characterized by atrophy of brain which is slow and progressive.
- Huntington’s chorea: it is also a progressive degeneration of brain. The patient has movements that mimic of dance steps. He has gradual mental deterioration.
- Multi infarct dementia: it is caused due to series of minor strokes. It usually results as damage to the small vessels of the brain leading to cellular injury to brain, gradual loss of memory etc.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency and poor nutrition.
- Drug poisoning.
- Brain tumor.
Signs And Symptoms Of Senile Dementia
In the beginning the signs of senile dementia are difficult to detect. The behavioral changes are usually subtle. In the early symptoms may include:
- Forgetfulness; patient forgets the recent acts and events.
- Finds difficulty to reason out things. He does not accept new things and concepts.
- Finds difficulty in calculations for e.g. he may not be able calculate simple money transactions in day to day life that he does.
- Deteriorating judgment in geographical location.
- Personality change.
- Looses initiative and becomes passive.
- Looses temper frequently.
- Agitates fast.
- Confronting with people and disturbs other people sleep.
- Loss of interest in surrounding.
- Impairment in language.
- Does not maintain personal hygiene.
- Fits and paralysis.
- Incapable to eat or clean, bathe and so on.
- Urine and stool incontinence.
- Gradual loss of weight.
- Finally the patient may start vegetating. Meaning he remains confined to bed and death may ensue due to recurrent infection.
Treatment For Senile Dementia
Senile dementia that is caused due to vitamin B12 deficiency, depression, poor nutrition, alcoholism or drug poisoning is treatable if these conditions are corrected on time.
Progressive degenerating brain cell diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multi infarcts do not have effective treatment. In such cases management and caring the patient takes the priority rather than treatment. Advice to care givers, family members and social support are important.
Few herbs and plants are known to be effective in improving the circulation in the brain and impulse transmission.
- Ginkgo biloba: it improves the blood circulation in the small blood vessels of the brain. It makes them strong and helps to prevent leakage.
- Ginseng: researchers are getting promising results with the use of ginseng in improving the mental functions of patients suffering from Alzheimer disease. However, still more evidence based research is needed to prove its efficiency.
- Wheat germ oil: its content octaconasol, helps to prevent oxidation of nerve cells. It protects against degeneration of brain.
Certain homeopathic remedies are also found to be effective in treating senile dementia. These are Baryta carb, conium, phosphorus etc.