What is Dementia?
Dementia is the general term for the loss of memory and other cognitive functions severe enough to interfere with daily life. Many people with dementia will experience major personality changes. A person living with dementia will go through stages. It starts with mild cognitive decline (forgetful, difficulties in problem solving or doing complex tasks). Advanced dementia happens when a person is unable to care for themselves. Dementia care in Singapore includes prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and home or nursing care.
Dementia is more common as people grow older and is
becoming a normal part of aging.
In Singapore, 1 in 10 people above the age of 60 are diagnosed with dementia.
Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
Signs and symptoms of dementia happen when neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, disconnect with other brain cells, and die. While we all lose some neurons as we age, people with dementia experience greater loss.
The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include the following:
A person with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognising their symptoms can be challenging. It is important to consider a person’s current abilities and monitor for changes over time that could indicate dementia.
Causes of Dementia
Causes of dementia can differ, depending on the changes in or damages to the brain that may be occurring. But a healthy lifestyle that reduces risk factors can delay or even prevent dementia.
Different Types of Dementia
In Singapore, Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia are the most common types of dementia. All other types of dementia make up a small percentage of the remaining.
The four most common forms of dementia are:
Diagnosis – Dementia Care in Singapore
Dementia is a collection of symptoms related to cognitive decline of the brain. Doctors need to go through medical history, physical examination, mental state examination, lab tests and imaging studies to assess for dementia. Doctors will also rule out other causes that might look like dementia symptoms.
Vascular Dementia : There’s no turning back once the symptoms of Vascular Dementia set in. Lower your risk by adoping the habits now.
1. Stay Physically Active
2. Eat Healthily
3. Stay Mentally Active
4. Be socially engage
5. Go for regular health screening
The following may be used to diagnose dementia:
The doctor will rule out any other conditions that may relate to loss of mental function. A review of an individual’s medical and family history can provide important information on risk for dementia. Typical questions might include:
- whether dementia runs in the family
- how and when symptoms began
- changes in behavior and personality
- if the person is taking certain medications that might worsen or cause symptoms.
A physical assessment to measure blood pressure and other vital signs, can give a baseline. An overall organ system exam can reveal other diseases that may increase risk of dementia.
Mental State Examination
This evaluation will help determine if depression or other mental health conditions is causing symptoms. Cognitive and neurological tests: these tests assess your thinking and physical function. These include testing memory, problem solving, language, and math skills. Physical testing includes balance, sensory response, and reflexes.
a) Blood testing can look for diseases related to dementia. (eg. lipid for heart disease and vascular dementia.)
b) Specific blood test, it is now possible for doctors to order a blood test to measure levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that builds up in people with Alzheimer’s. Several other blood tests are in development.
c) Genetic tests. A person’s genetic code can sometimes cause certain types of dementia. In these cases, a genetic test can help people know if they are at risk for dementia. It is important to talk with a genetic counselor before and you get tested, along with family members and the doctor.
a) Brain scans. These tests can identify strokes, tumors, and other conditions that can cause dementia. The scans also show changes in brain structure and function.
b) Computed tomography (CT), which uses X-rays to produce images of the brain and other organs
c) Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of body structures, including tissues, organs, bones, and nervesd)
d)Positron emission tomography (PET), which uses radiation to provide pictures of brain activity
Early detection of symptoms is important. Some causes can be reversed, while other causes can be treated. However, there are some causes of dementia that are unknown or have no treatment available yet. Still, getting an early diagnosis can help with managing the condition and planning ahead.
Who Can Diagnose Dementia?
Visiting a general practitioner (GP) is often the first step for those who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists, geriatricians and geriatric psychiatrists are often consulted to diagnose dementia.
Dementia Care in Singapore after Diagnosis – Next Steps
Once your loved one is diagnosed with Dementia, iKare will work with your doctor to specially customise a Dementia Care plan to manage and reduce progression of dementia. Our team of Dementia-Trained Nurses will come to your home to ensure your loved ones are well taken care of and their Dementia managed all in the comfortable surrounding of your own home.