The brain is an extremely complex organ, which needs an array of nutrients to maintain its healthy functioning and to keep us thinking clearly. It has a high composition of fatty acids and water. It consumes a high proportion of blood sugar and low blood sugar will cause sleepiness and lack of focus. Dehydration can also reduce concentration. ‘Brain fog’ is a colloquial term for an untypical slow thinking process and associated sometimes with chronic fatigue.
Dementia is a condition characterized by a progressive decline of mental abilities, resulting in the restriction of a person’s daily functioning. The brain can be affected by various diseases and conditions which can lead to dementia. These include Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, head injuries, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Although your risk of developing dementia increases with age and is most commonly seen in the elderly (about 5% of people over the age of 65, and 20% of those over the age of 80 years have dementia to a certain degree) dementia is possible at any age, depending on the cause. Health care practitioners use various criteria to diagnose dementia. A full examination and evaluation is important to rule out other conditions such as infection, depression, or vitamin B12 deficiency. Low vitamin D can also impair memory as well as other neurological functions. The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks in needs for proper repair and function.
Recent memory loss
Most of us forget certain things, but remember them at a later stage. A person with dementia may forget things, and never remember them at all. A loss of recent memory, for example, forgetting what you did the day before, is often one of the first signs of the onset of dementia. Long-term memory is often unaffected until much later.
Difficulty performing familiar activities
A person with dementia might forget that he or she has completed a specific activity like cooking, shopping, watering the garden, or can’t remember how to operate a commonly used appliance like the washing machine.
Problems with language
A person suffering from dementia often forgets simple words and then uses the incorrect terminology or vocabulary, making it difficult for others to understand them.
Problems with time and place
People with dementia are often confused and disorientated about time and place. They may not remember the day, week, month, or year. Familiar places (even their own homes) might seem completely foreign to them.
When a person with dementia struggles to remember recent events, it affects his or her judgment. This person will make poor judgment calls such as driving when they shouldn’t, giving away huge amounts of money, or wearing very little clothing in cold weather.
Problems with abstract thinking
Those with dementia have difficulty reasoning and understanding abstract concepts. Doing simple calculations and recognizing numbers is a challenge for people suffering from dementia.
The individual suffering from dementia will leave things in inappropriate places, such as sugar in the fridge or socks in a pot.
Mood or behavioral changes
People with dementia often become unusually emotional and agitated, and may experience angry outbursts and aggressive behavior. Depression and anxiety are also very common.
Pronounced personality changes occur suddenly or over a period of time in the person with dementia. Confusion, fear, suspicion, anger, nervousness, and dependence are some of the changes likely to take place.
Loss of initiative
Individuals often lose interest and enthusiasm for things that once brought joy to them such as hobbies, sports, and social interaction. They become passive and lack motivation.
One of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes include:
- Degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease
- Medical conditions such as vascular disease (hardening of the arteries), strokes, and severe head injuries
- Infections that affect the brain and spinal cord
- Excessive drug and alcohol abuse
Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues, including the brain function. Higher levels of stress hormones can speed up short-term memory loss in older adults . A study found that nearly three out of four Alzheimer's patients had experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis.
Mood may change with those who have problems with short term memory and with nutritional balances. This may be a symptom of inflammatory impacts such as chronic stress. Most of the time, mood swings suggest that something is out of balance or physically wrong. The violent mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are much more severe and need professional attention.