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Are You a Dementia Patient?

Posted August. 22, 2005 03:11,   


Let’s learn about dementia-

Dementia is considered as an incurable disease, but it is not. Of course, there is no “wonder drug” for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the progress of vascular dementia can be prevented. Some kinds of dementia can also be cured if it is detected at an early stage.

Symptoms of dementia are too various to sum up into one or two kinds. But it is clear that there is a link between dementia and forgetfulness.

If you are in your 40s, the link may not exist yet. When you can remember something with some hints of others, it is just forgetfulness. You cannot remember that when you suffer from dementia.

However, if you are the elderly, the link becomes clearer. Early symptoms of many elderly dementia patients often accompany forgetfulness.

A few days ago, dementia preventive habits were recommended at the First International Dementia Prevention Academic Conference. According to the recommendations, the most important thing is the frequent use of your brain. Enjoy a puzzle game or baduk (Korean Go). Listen to a telephone number and remember it after 10 seconds. Having a social life and low stress decreases the risk of developing dementia.

Exercise regularly and eat fruits and vegetables rich with vitamin C, E and crops rich with folic acid.

Look Out for Early Warning Signs-

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 50-60 percent of all dementia cases, include the following (and one should have a medical examination after detecting any of these warning signs):

The first is a deteriorating memory. In particular, recent memory failures. By contrast, long-used memory functions such as address, phone numbers, and names of family members are still relatively well maintained.

An example of this is when you cannot remember things promptly, therefore you would frequently say “Well..” or “Let me see ...” You also may not know what day is today.

It is also good to make use of SIRQD (the Seoul Informant Report Questionnaire for Dementia) which was developed by a dementia clinic in SNU hospital last year.

In addition, you can use smell in detecting early warning signs.

Recently, a professor at Columbia University published a repot in “Neurology” that dementia patients cannot identify some kinds of smells. According to the report, dementia patients cannot sense 10 kinds of smells such as mint, lather, strawberry, pineapple, smoke, soap, natural gas, lemon, and dried clove buds.

Experts said that further research was needed, but it is a good way of self-diagnosis.

(Consultation assistance: Dr. Lee Dong-young from SNU hospital, Professor Sohn Young-ho from Severance Hospital.)

Sang-Hoon Kim corekim@donga.com