Senile Dementia

Senile Dementia: Overview

Senile dementia is a disease caused by degeneration of the brain cells.  It is different from normal senility in the elderly in that the patient's brain function will gradually deteriorate resulting in progressive loss of memory and mental abilities, and noticeable personality changes.

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Causes and Development

Dementia is always caused by an underlying disease or condition.  Brain tissue is damaged, and functioning is diminished.  The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder causing deterioration in memory and thought processes.

Causes include:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Vascular dementia, the second most common cause of dementia, accounting for up to 20% of all dementias
  • Huntington disease, a progressive degenerative disease that causes dance-like movements and mental deterioration
  • Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
  • Multiple sclerosis, a disorder of the sheath that lines the brain and spinal cord
  • HIV, the immunodeficiency disorder that leads to AIDS
  • Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of part of the nervous system
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rapidly progressing degenerative disorder of the nervous system causing problems with walking, talking, and the senses
  • Pick's disease, a disorder of the brain that causes slowly progressing dementia
  • Viral or bacterial encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain
  • Lewy body disease, a degenerative disease of the nervous system
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus, or increased cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
  • Chronic subdural hematoma, or bleeding between the brain lining and brain tissue
  • Brain tumor
  • Wilson disease, a rare disease causing an accumulation of copper in the liver, brain, kidneys, and corneas
  • Neurosyphilis, an infection of the nervous system by the syphilis bacteria, which causes weakness and mental deterioration
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy, also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, a rare disorder of late middle age that causes widespread neurological problems.

Certain abnormalities of a person's metabolism or hormones may also be responsible for the development of dementia, including the following:

In some of these cases, dementia can be reversed by removing the toxic agent or bringing vitamin levels back to normal.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms at the early stage include the following:

  • Forgetting recent events (distant memories also fade as the disease progresses)
  • Experiencing difficulty in reasoning, calculation, and accepting new things
  • Becoming confused over time, place and direction
  • Impaired judgment
  • Changes in personality
  • Becoming passive and losing initiative.

Symptoms at the middle stage include the following:

  • Losing cognitive ability, such as the ability to learn, judge, and reason
  • Becoming emotionally unstable, and easily losing temper or becoming agitated
  • Needing help to simply live from day to day
  • Confusing night and day; disturbing others' normal sleeping time.

Symptoms at the later stage include the following:

  • Losing all cognitive ability
  • Becoming entirely incapable of self-care, including eating, bathing, and so on
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Incontinence
  • Losing weight gradually
  • Walking unsteadily and becoming confined to bed.

Treatment and Prevention

Senile dementia that is caused by depression, poor nutrition, thyroid dysfunction, drug poisoning, alcoholism, and so on, can often be corrected by treating the underlying problem.

Alzheimer's disease and multi-infarct dementia are degenerative diseases, and up to now there is no effective treatment.  It is best to recognize the symptoms early and be diagnosed and assessed by a doctor.  There are currently some medications available to slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease.

If you recognize the symptoms of senile dementia in a family member, these steps should be taken:

  • Consult your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Join a family support group for senile dementia patients.  This will help to ease the pressure of looking after the patient through sharing of experience.
  • Take advantage of social services such as day care centers for the elderly.
  • Explain your loved one's illness to your relatives and neighbors to gain their understanding and support.
  • Make alterations in your home environment to prevent accidents.
  • Establish a daily routine for the patient to reduce his or her feelings of confusion.
  • Have the patient wear a wrist bracelet labeled with his name and telephone number.  Always have a recent photo of the patient at home so that it will help to find him if he or she gets lost.

There is up till now no effective way to prevent Alzheimer's disease.  However, multi-infarct dementia is caused by damaged blood vessels, and can be prevented through healthy living habits.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Senile Dementia:

Symptoms - Mind - General

Conditions that suggest Senile Dementia:


Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common cause of dementia, being responsible for 60-80% of cases.  All people with Alzheimer's disease have problems with memory loss, disorientation and thinking ability.

Parkinson's Disease

Memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction are rarely encountered in early stage Parkinson's disease.  However, about 30% of Parkinson's disease victims eventually develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.


Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's Disease.


Dizziness can be caused by any condition causing confusion or an altered state of mind, including medications, drugs or alcohol.

Symptoms - Mind - General

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Risk factors for Senile Dementia:


Alcohol-related Problems

Alcoholism is a possible cause of senile dementia.


Down's Syndrome

Although many people with Down's syndrome do develop dementia in their later years, this is by no means inevitable.  Research indicates that although the incidence of dementia in people with Down's syndrome is similar to that of the general population, it occurs some 20-30 years earlier.



Multi-infarct dementia is caused by a series of minor strokes.  It usually results from damage to the small blood vessels in the brain causing deprivation of blood supply to the brain cells thus affecting its function.  Patients' abilities will decline in a step-like pattern.


Atherosclerosis is a risk factor for reduced circulation in the brain, sometimes called ischemic vascular dementia (IVD).

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Hypertension is a risk factor for reduced circulation in the brain, sometimes called ischemic vascular dementia (IVD).

Dental / Oral

Tooth Loss

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that those who couldn't chew properly because they were missing teeth and didn't wear dentures were at increased risk (91% for men, 22% for women) for developing dementia than those who were able to chew normally.  Those who could chew properly but didn't brush daily also had increased risk (22% for men, 65% for women).  Among those who had not seen their dentist within the last 12 months there was also increased risk (89% for men, 12% for women) compared to those who had seen the dentist two or more times.

It is believed that the inflammation associated with periodontal disease may affect the brain, contributing to dementia, and that those with fewer teeth who don't wear dentures may develop dietary deficiencies that are related to dementia.


Consequences of Poor Diet

Poor nutrition is one possible cause of senile dementia.

Drug Side-Effect


Supplements, Medications, Drugs

Much/some B-complex supplementation

The B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 and B12, help us to stay mentally sharp.  As we age, we lose about 2% of our brain volume every 10 years.  B vitamins help reduce levels of homocysteine, which is linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.  Studies have shown that individuals taking B vitamins experience less brain atrophy and better cognitive function than those who do not.

Symptoms - Glandular

Under 4/4-6/7-9/Over 9 years at 120-180 blood sugar

Hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are risk factors for reduced circulation in the brain, sometimes called ischemic vascular dementia (IVD).

Symptoms - Mind - General

Recommendations for Senile Dementia:

Botanical / Herbal




Because of its potential to stimulate endogenous L- DOPA synthesis, 17 patients in one study with symptoms ranging from mild cognitive decline to severe dementia received oral NADH as the disodium salt 10mg in the morning 30 minutes before breakfast.  All showed a significant improvement in mental function within 8-12 weeks.

Preventive measures against Senile Dementia:



Tobacco Avoidance

The best way to prevent multi-infarct dementia is to avoid smoking and alcohol, maintain a balanced diet, take regular exercise, have a positive attitude, and keep high blood pressure and diabetes under control.

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