What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term for a brain condition that affects memory, language, problem solving, and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is not a normal part of the ageing process, and it affects a large number of people.

Although Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults, there are several other causes of dementia. Some dementia symptoms may be reversible depending on the cause.

What causes Dementia?

Damage to brain cells causes dementia. This damage impairs brain cells' ability to communicate with one another. When brain cells are unable to communicate normally, thinking, behaviour and feelings can be affected.

The brain is divided into many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for a different set of functions (for example, memory, judgement and movement). When cells in a specific region are damaged, that region is unable to function normally.

Diseases that may lead to dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Corticobasal Degeneration
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • HIV Dementia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

What are the signs and symptoms of Dementia?

Symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss that interferes with daily activities such as dressing, cooking and cleaning.
  • Misplacing items and being unable to recall or retrace steps
  • Word-finding difficulties that are more frequent than usual when writing or speaking
  • Difficulties in planning or problem solving, such as paying bills or arranging repairs
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as using the microwave, cooking a known recipe or driving to a familiar location.
  • Confusion regarding time or place - for example, mixing up days and events, or failing to recognise familiar areas
  • Difficulty comprehending visual images and spatial relationships.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities due to a loss of confidence in social situations or difficulty understanding conversations.
  • Mood and personality changes - becoming more irritable, short-tempered, disinhibited, depressed, and lacking motivation and apathy.

What are the treatments for Dementia?

  • Education and referral to support networks
  • Advice on behavioural management, including the use of aids and reminders
  • Medication such as cholinesterase inhibitors can help with cognitive functions, behaviour, and daily activities.
  • Occupational therapy (OT)
  • Therapy for Cognitive Stimulation (CST groups)
  • Therapy based on memories (Reminiscence therapy)
  • Treatment and support for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia

How is Dementia diagnosed?

A mental health practitioner will obtain a complete history from the patient and their caregiver. This is then followed by a cognitive test. The cognitive test consists of questions testing a variety of brain processes such as language, memory, calculation, thinking, and judgement.

The patient will then undergo a panel of blood tests. A brain scan, either CT or MRI may be done. Treatment will be discussed depending on the outcome.

Why seek help?

Diagnosis of dementia benefits both patients and caregivers. Knowing what they're dealing with allows them to seek treatment, psychoeducation, and caregiver support.

Patients with dementia may find it hard to access treatment and care, such as  participating in post-operative rehabilitation, receiving the proper treatment, and monitoring their health. 

Memory problems can also be an indication of emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and bereavement. These conditions can be treated with the proper intervention.

With many years of experience, our mental health professionals in ParkCity Medical Centre (PMC) will guide you through the process with care. Here at PMC, you have an extensive option for therapy for mental illness, ranging from counselling to medication and other care that is deemed appropriate by our mental health specialists.

Meet our Specialist

Dr Wan Izwin Wan Hassan

Consultant Psychiatrist, Geriatric Psychiatry

Ms Tan Pei Jun

Clinical Psychologist, Unit Head