The term dementia is derived from the Latin words 'de' denoting 'apart' and 'mens' signifying the 'mind'. In fact, the word dementia is used to denote a condition wherein the cognitive function or the intelligence worsens gradually. In other words, it is a set of symptoms attributed to certain maladies that have an effect on the brain.

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However, dementia does not mean any particular ailment. In fact, people enduring these groups of symptoms may not have the ability to reason appropriately enough to perform their usual actions like dressing up or eating. In addition, such patients may also be deprived of the aptitude to work out their difficulties or be in charge of their feelings. The behaviours or traits of such individuals may also undergo changes. It is likely that these people may be worked up easily and also see objects that are actually not there.

Dementia is basically an expression that describes a cluster of symptoms that may be attributed to several maladies which have an effect on the brain. The cerebral performance of individuals suffering from dementia is considerably damaged and this actually gets in the way of their usual doings as well as relationships.

Such people also do not have the aptitude to resolve their difficulties as well as have control over their emotions. In addition, they may experience changes in their character and face interactive troubles like mirages, illusions and anxieties. Although loss of memory is a common symptom among dementia patients, this does not imply that anyone who is suffering from memory loss is affected by this unusual malady.

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Usually physicians diagnose a person to be suffering from dementia if they suffer from two or more disorders of the brain like loss of verbal communication, memory loss, lacking in perception or the cognitive ability - counting way of thinking and judgment. Significantly enough, though people suffering from dementia have their intellect considerably damages, they do not lose consciousness.

It is important to note that although loss of memory is a very widespread indication of dementia, by itself loss of memory does not denote that an individual is suffering from the malady. In fact, people suffering from this ailment usually endure two or more serious problems in the functioning of their brain, for instance, memory and verbal communication.

Several dissimilar ailments, such as Alzheimer's disease and stroke, may be responsible for developing dementia. A number of medicines are available to treat a number of maladies that may cause dementia. While these medications may not be able to cure dementia completely or restore the harm done to the brain, they certainly are able to provide relief from the symptoms of the condition as well as inhibit the progress of the ailment.

When an individual endures Alzheimer's disease or any of the different forms of dementia, the progress of these disease results in several nerve cells ceasing to function, get detached from other neurons and eventually die. On the contrary, when an individual undergoes the normal aging process, it does not lead to the death of an abundance of neurons in the brain.

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Various types of dementia

The mental derangement caused by dementia may be categorized in several dissimilar methods. While classifying the disorders endeavour is made to form a collection of the derangements that have specific aspects common to them. For instance, classifications are made on the basis of whether the disorders are becoming more severe and the regions of the brain that have been affected by the disease. Some of the common categorization of the disorders endured by people suffering from dementia includes the following aspects:

Primary dementia
This type of dementia includes the Alzheimer's disease and is not caused by any other ailment.

Secondary dementia
When an individual develops mental disorders causing dementia owing to any injury or physical ailment the condition is known as secondary dementia.

Progressive dementia
In this case the symptoms of dementia deteriorate with each passing day and increasingly hinder the cerebral or intellectual actions of the patient.

Cortical dementia
This is a type of dementia which basically harms the cortex or the external stratum of the brain. People suffering from cortical dementia usually have troubles with remembrance, verbal communication, ability to think as well as their social behaviour and relations.

Sub-cortical dementia
In this case, the regions of the brain below the cortex or the outer layer are affected. This category of the disease has a tendency to result in changes in the patient's movements and feeling or emotions. In addition, it also affects the memory of the patient.

Multiple classifications
There are a number of types of dementia that may be incorporated in several of the above mentioned classifications. For instance, the Alzheimer's disease may be classified under progressive as well as cortical dementia.

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Additional uncommon heritable dementias

In addition to the different forms of dementia discussed above, the other uncommon varieties of dementia that is heritable comprise the familial British dementia, fatal familial insomnia, Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS) disease and the familial Danish dementia.

Characteristically, people suffering from the GSS disease experience symptoms like ataxia (loss of synchronization of muscle movements) and progressive dementia and they are first visible when an individual is aged between 50 years and 60 years. In this case, the patient may live with the malady for a number of years before succumbing to it.

The familial Danish dementia and familial British dementia have been associated to dissimilar flaws in a gene present in chromosome 13. The symptoms of both these ailments are similar and they include paralysis, progressive dementia and loss of balance. On the other hand, fatal familial insomnia results in deterioration of the area of the brain called the thalamus.

The thalamus is partly involved in regulating our sleep. This disorder results in a gradual increase in insomnia or sleeplessness and that ultimately makes an individual to finally lose his or her aptitude to sleep. In addition, people enduring fatal familial insomnia may also experience dementia, reduced reactions and/ or figments of the imagination and ultimately be in a state of coma. Generally, this fatal disease claims its victim within a period between seven to 13 months, but some may even survive for a longer period.

Herbs and supplements

While there is still no precise treatment available for dementia or the symptoms of the cerebral disorder, researches have demonstrated that one or two herbs are useful in alleviating some of the symptoms of the malady. In fact, the aromatic herb ginkgo biloba and an herbal extract called Vinpocetine have displayed the possibility of having a positive effect in augmenting memory among the elderly people.

In fact, a methodical appraisal of all the studies undertaken till 2002 established that the use of ginkgo provided some evidence and hope that the herb is useful in enhancing the cerebral and other functions in dementia patients. Nevertheless, findings of three studies undertaken randomly on gingko could not verify the positive results of the herb in treating cerebral damage in dementia patients that was established by the earlier researches.

However, one of these randomized studies demonstrated that ginkgo was somewhat effective in improving the conditions of patients who were not detected as suffering from dementia. All said and done, it is generally believed that ginkgo biloba will possibly be helpful in preventing dementia. On the other hand, studies on the Vinpocetine, which is extracted from a herb called periwinkle, is hopeful, but in a very nascent stage.

Other beneficial herbs

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