More than 5 million people in the United States live with dementia every day. This number is expected to rise as people live longer and longer lives. Dementia is an extremely difficult disease to cope with, both for the affected individual and their family. At First Valley Medical Group in Lancaster, CA, Kanagaratnam Sivalingam, MD, and his team understand the physical and emotional toll that dementia takes and can help you navigate the disease by providing diagnostic testing and treatments to manage the symptoms. To learn more, call the office or use the online scheduling tool to make an appointment today.
Dementia is a general term for a group of diseases that cause a severe drop in mental ability. Over time, patients lose their ability to think, reason, and manage their own lives.
In advanced cases, the body forgets how to perform basic biological functions like swallowing. Dementia is classified into two groups:
These types of dementia happen because of problems in the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, which plays a critical role in memory and language.
Patients usually suffer severe memory loss and slowly lose their ability to speak and understand language. Examples of cortical dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Subcortical dementia is caused by damage to the parts of your brain underneath the cortex. Some of the changes patients see are slowed thinking, increased clumsiness, and frequent mood swings.
Some examples of subcortical dementia are Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
Most types of dementia get worse over a period of years, but a small subset does progress very rapidly with patients deteriorating over a matter of weeks.
Depending on what type of dementia you have, you can experience problems in the following areas:
Impaired cognitive function (mental abilities) in patients with dementia include problems with memory, feeling confused and disoriented, the inability to speak or understand language, reduced concentration, and more.
A lack of restraint, losing things, poor judgment, and poor decision-making are some of the behavioral manifestations of dementia.
Mood-related symptoms in dementia patients include anxiety, loneliness, severe mood swings, and more.
Depression and, in advanced cases, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia are common symptoms in many patients.
Some patients develop the inability to control muscle movement, which leads to slower reflexes, unsteady walking, and other issues.
Dementia can also affect the function of entire organ systems, leading to poor nutrition, an increased risk of infections, and, in late-stage dementia, coma and death.
Diagnosing dementia is challenging, but Dr. Sivalingam at First Valley Medical Group has an experienced team that does in-house testing to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment.
To diagnose your case, Dr. Sivalingam does a physical exam and examines your thinking ability using a number of tests to evaluate your memory, language skills, reasoning, judgment, problem-solving, and more.
If Dr. Sivalingam has any concerns after some initial testing, he might also suggest a brain scan like an MRI or PET scan to check for evidence of stroke and to measure brain activity.
After your condition is assessed and depending on your particular case, your doctor can then prescribe medication to boost your mind’s ability to function.
If your dementia is already advanced, Dr. Sivalingam can refer you to a specialist or caregiver who can work with you on a daily basis to provide assistance with daily activities and long-term care.
If you’re noticing the early signs of dementia in yourself or a loved one, call the office or use the online scheduling tool to make an appointment at First Valley Medical Group.