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Dementia is a regressive disease of the brain. It can result in restriction of daily activities and can lead to the need of long term care for its sufferers.

How common is dementia

The frequency of dementia range from 2% to 20%. It doubles with every 5 years increase in age in those over aged 65. More than half of the patients with dementia have Alzheimer s disease.

Who are at risk of developing dementia?

  • Being female for certain type of dementia.
  • Those with uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and high cholesterol level. (Parkinson s disease).
  • Patients with Parkinson’s disease.
  • People with lower intelligence or education.

There are certain genetic factors that are known to increase the risk without causing the disease itself.

Signs and symptom

  • Forgetfulness affecting work or daily life.
  • Difficulties with familiar activities, example cooking, bathing, and dressing.
  • Difficulties in remembering simple words and expressing themselves or they may be repeating their words (echolalia).
  • Problems with orientation example getting lost in familiar streets.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Problems with abstract thinking for example having problems in deciding what to buy when they go shopping.
  • Misplacing things or leaving things behind.
  • Sudden mood swings, often without a known cause. They may also have behavior changes.
  • Changes in their personality, from some who was very friendly to someone who becomes unexpectedly angry, jealous or timid.
  • Loses interest and enjoyment in their work and in their hobbies.

You can try this test (Symptom of Dementia Screener (SDS, Mundt et al) to find out whether any of your family members are likely to have dementia


If dementia is not recognized early, several consequences may occur such as:

  • Increase in medical and psychiatric illness
  • Increase in mortality rates
  • Dementia can lead to early institutionalization
  • It can cause stress physical and psychiatric illness in the caregivers themselves
  • It can lead to the abuse of the patients

Can Dementia be treated?

There is no cure presently for dementia, but education and support for patients and caregivers can help towards improving some symptoms There are a number of medications that can help to improve cognitive function. Sometimes drugs used in the treatment of psychosis, depression and mood disorders can be prescribed


New research has found that intellectually stimulating activities such as playing chess, reading and so on, may reduce the risk of dementia. Living a healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of developing dementia


There are many psychosocial therapies that are found to benefit patients with dementia. These include supporting patients in their daily activities and encourage activities which help to stimulate their mental and sensory function and many others Your nearest support group can help you in suggesting which activities are helpful

Support groups

Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation of Malaysia

Johor Bahru Alzheimer’s Disease Association (JOBADA)

Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Suraya binti Yusoff
Reviewer : Dr. Lazli Bin Bakar