Stages and types of dementia: how much a patient can live with such a diagnosis


The further fate of a person with detected dementia depends largely on the type of disorder. He also determines the subsequent medical strategy aimed at slowing down the process and removing unpleasant accompanying symptoms.

The main reasons for the development of pathology

Organic brain damage occurs as a result of the natural aging of the human body. The cause of the phenomenon are also violations of the thyroid gland, a number of somatic diseases, neurological and vascular pathologies.

Alcoholism and drug addiction can also provoke drastic changes in the central . Poisoning by chemicals at work can lead to destructive consequences for the brain if personal safety rules are not followed.

Both types of stroke, various head injuries and brain tumors can also lead to dementia. Sometimes the cause of increasing dementia is medication, after the cancellation of which the symptoms gradually subside. In this case, we can talk about reversible dementia.

Dementia and its classification

The pathology under consideration has different classifications. Since dementia is a consequence of brain damage, its types are determined by the underlying disease. One of the separation options is:

  • Atrophic dementia. Her provoke Alzheimer’s disease and Pick. In the nerve cells of the central nervous system (CNS), initial destructive processes occur.
  • Vascular dementia. It is provoked by a change in the lumen of the blood vessels and hypertension. Cholesterol plaques in the vessels can lead to impaired blood supply to the brain (possibly a stroke) and, as a result, to the gradual development of dementia.
  • Dementia mixed type. Mechanisms of development resemble atrophic and vascular variants.
  • Alcoholic. Occurs because of the constant use of alcoholic beverages.

Atrophic dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia in the elderly develops for various reasons. First of all, we are talking about organic damage to brain areas responsible for memory and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease serves as the backdrop against which dementia occurs – a typical case in old people. Very rarely, the disease is diagnosed at an earlier age.

Stages and types of dementia: how much a patient can live with such a diagnosis

Protein plaques formed on neurons lead to their gradual death, which causes first a breakdown of short-term, then long-term memory. Atrophy of the brain is growing, the destructive process itself is irreversible.

The disease progresses, and each stage brings new characteristics. Short-term memory is impaired, attention is reduced, passivity, slow thinking and impaired speech appear. Later, violations of long-term memory are manifested, the ability to care for oneself and perform elementary actions is lost.

Death occurs due to dehydration or pneumonia, since an extremely weakened body is not able to cope with aggressive factors. The average survival after diagnosis is 7 years. Alzheimer’s disease, according to statistics, in 70% of cases is the cause of atrophic dementia.

Features of vascular dementia

The initial stage of the disease is characterized by increased fatigue. The patient complains of sleep disturbances and frequent headaches. Over time, increases the systematicity of and distraction. Memory disorders are manifested in the form of forgetting the names of close, significant dates and disorientation in space.

Among the neurological symptoms often occur:

  • partial muscular paralysis;
  • speech disorders;
  • dysuria.

The causes of vascular dementia can be heart disease in the form of defects, atherosclerosis. The male half of the population compared to the female is more prone to this option (about one and a half times).

The development of dementia and its intensity, the prognosis of survival is determined by the fact whether there has been a history of stroke. If it was, then the lifespan is significantly reduced.

Early manifestation of the disease

Since dementia develops gradually, it is almost impossible to identify it in the early stages. But the life expectancy prognosis depends on the developmental stage of dementia. First, the memory of recent events worsens, and this is not about simple forgetfulness, which occurs in a healthy person. The rate of reactions decreases, and the fact that it is difficult for a patient to find words during a conversation comes to the fore.

Sometimes the diseased manages to skillfully hide the problems found in him, avoiding complicated actions. But a decline in interest in any activity (for reading, for example) betrays the patient. The character also changes, there may be stubbornness, conservatism in views, stinginess, etc. The moral qualities of a person suffer as well – spiritual values ​​are depreciated, a sense of shame is lost. For a long time, gestures and certain features of a particular person’s behavior may persist.

Final Disorder

For patients in the last stage of dementia before death, severe exhaustion, tremor of the extremities is characteristic. Independent maintenance is impossible even in elementary things – a person cannot eat, go to the toilet, carry out hygienic procedures.

The immune forces of the body are extremely weakened, so the patient is prone to various infections. Any doctor leading his patient with a diagnosis of dementia has to rely on his own experience. Only careful observation of the sick will allow correct therapy and correct treatment, if necessary.

Hallucinations and delusions are also found at this stage. The main task of the nursing staff, if the patient is in a medical facility, is to minimize the suffering of the patient. The final stage makes it almost impossible to proper care at home. Death occurs within a year after the onset of the last stage of the disease.

Progression of senile dementia

Senile or senile dementia is invisible with a quick look and superficial communication with the patient. Former forms of behavior, gestures and intonation may persist, but the disease has already manifested itself. The problem may appear if an old man is asked a completely random question – about his age, the place where he is. A healthy person will respond easily, affected by senile dementia will experience difficulties or make a mistake in the answer.

Unlike the vascular variant of the disease, senile dementia in the elderly does not often cause psychotic states. The absence of hallucinations and delusions facilitates the course of the disease for both the patients themselves and their environment. Symptoms of psychosis in the old age group sometimes still occur and are accompanied by sleep disorders – insomnia or a temporary shift in the schedule.

There are mood swings (emotion quickly gives way to aggressive attacks). The following factors can be provocateurs of severe manifestations of dementia:

  • blood pressure surges;
  • abrupt change of scenery;
  • changes in blood sugar levels;
  • improper nutrition.

At home, you need to carefully treat an elderly person, protecting him from additional diseases of an infectious nature.

The main causes of senile dementia

The question of why the degenerative processes in the brain are accelerating in old age is not fully understood. A number of researchers are inclined to explain that the immune regulation, with increasing age, fails, triggering autoimmune processes. The body begins to attack itself, leading to damage to brain cells.

Liquor, which supports metabolic processes between the brain and blood, normally contains protective cells. Older age leads to an imbalance of cells and the loss of their properties, the result is pathological changes in the central nervous system. Dementia is also caused at the genetic level. The members of the families in which the diagnosis was made have a greater risk of manifestation of the disease (4.3 times).

A number of somatic diseases can increase the severity of symptoms of mildly flowing senile dementia. The clinical picture and the rate of flow of dementia change, so it is important to eliminate other diseases in time, reducing the rate of increasing degenerative disorders of the nervous system.

Survival after detection of the disease

To answer the question of how many people live with a diagnosis of “senile dementia”, it is necessary to take into account a number of external factors. Among them and the conditions of the patient. According to the University of Cambridge, the life expectancy after detection of the disease is approximately 5 years.

The percentage of cases of detection of the disease depends on the age of the person. 2% of the total number of patients accounts for the period from 60 to 70 years. After the onset of 80 years, 20% of old people are already exposed to dementia. The risk increases to 45% if an elderly person is already 90 years old. These figures can not be considered accurate, since many families do not send the elderly to the survey, preferring to take care at home.

In the absence of psychotic conditions, patients are more likely to remain in the family circle. If there are only memory impairments, there are problems with the intellect, then the home conditions will allow to maintain the condition of the patient. By itself, dementia rarely becomes the cause of death among the elderly. Weak immunity of bedridden patients leads to the development of pneumonia, the formation of bedsores. Death can occur as a result of a stroke or heart attack, especially if it is a vascular variant of a general disorder.

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