Understanding and diagnosing dementia, when to seek medical advice

Understanding and diagnosing dementia, when to seek medical advice

Most people come across memory loss during aging. Is it the natural aging process? Taiwanese doctor Shen Chingping, deputy supervisor of Taipei Beitou Hospital for Health Administration, stated that mental illness It is a brain disease and not a natural aging phenomenon. He reminded the public to be aware of the 10 signs of dementia. If several of them appear at once, medical advice should be sought.

Mr. Shen listed an example. Mrs. Chen, a 68-year-old retired woman, always wanders near her granddaughter’s house, talking at dusk. Her granddaughter recently noticed that Ms. Chen was easily losing memory and was unbalanced while walking. She even falls occasionally while walking. Ms. Chen believed that the memory loss was due to her old age, and not due to any disease. Her awareness and judgment are still sharp.

Her children took her for a body examination at the hospital. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), white patches were found in the gray matter of her brain, and the hippocampus had shrunk, leaving more space in the periphery of the brain. She was diagnosed with early stage dementia.

Mr. Shen reminded us that medical treatment can control the first stage of dementia. Early detection and treatment can prevent the disease from getting worse. Any of 10 warning signs may appear in the early stage of the disease. As soon as several of them appear at the same time, one should be careful and immediately seek medical advice.

  1. Memory loss affects daily life.
  2. Difficulties with planning or problem solving.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks in daily life.
  4. Doubts about the exact dates or places.
  5. Difficulties in understanding visual imaging and spatial relationship.
  6. Difficulties speaking or writing words were not a problem before.
  7. Putting things in the wrong place and losing the ability to retrieve everyday objects.
  8. Weakness or deterioration of judgment.
  9. Withdrawing from work or social activities.
  10. Alterations in mood and emotion.

Cheng-Ping Chien stated that dementia can be broadly classified into two types, degenerative and vascular diseases. Some patients have two or more types of dementia simultaneously. Alzheimer’s disease is an example of the neurodegenerative type, while vascular dementia is caused by stroke or thromboembolism in the brain. So far, drugs cannot cure dementia, but they do have an effect in controlling disease invasion. He suggested both early detection and treatment of the disease, and then medical help if needed.

Cheng-Ping Chien recommended maintaining a good mood for the patient, not smoking, avoiding cranial injury, controlling the “three elevations” (high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and high lipids), and getting regular exercise. He also suggested that older adults with a family history of dementia, diabetes or cranial injury should have regular medical checkups. Abnormal accumulation of amyloid or shrunken structures (particularly the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory) of the brain can be detected by MRI.

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David Chu is a London-based journalist who has been working in the financial sector for nearly 30 years in major cities in China and beyond, including South Korea, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia. He was born into a family that specialized in traditional Chinese medicine and had a background in ancient Chinese literature.

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