What is dementia?
Dementia is the umbrella term for various clinical pictures of the brain, which are characterized by a decline in mental performance and a progressive loss of memory. The ability to remember and concentrate diminishes and especially the long-term memory and acquired abilities diminish with the course of the disease. For the subdivision of the causes, a distinction is made between primary and secondary dementia:
- In primary dementia, the brain is the main organ affected. The symptoms result from damage to the nerve cells. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's dementia. A circulatory disorder of the brain can also be a cause of the decrease in cognitive performance, in which case it is called vascular dementia.
- Secondary dementia develops as a consequence of another existing disease. This can be the case, for example, with addictive disorders, thyroid disorders or after a traumatic brain injury. Likewise, medications and a lack of nutrients and vitamins can cause secondary dementia to develop. This form of dementia can also regress if the cause is corrected, such as the lack of nutrients or treatment of the underlying disease.
Therapy of dementia is difficult
Depending on the stage of dementia, it can be quite complicated to alleviate the symptoms. If there is an underlying disease, it should generally be treated comprehensively. If necessary, the individual specialist departments should work together in a coordinated manner. Behavioral therapy measures can be used, especially in the case of social withdrawal or changes in character. Often the symptoms can be alleviated accordingly. Medication can be useful against depressive moods, following medical advice. In order to maintain the existing cognitive abilities, there are various possibilities that should be used to train and develop them. Suitable for this are memory exercises (e.g. puzzles, guessing proverbs or songs), mindfulness exercises or coordination exercises (gymnastics, dancing). Through physical exercise, neuronal connections can be formed.
Furthermore, countless medications and dietary supplements are used for therapy. Since especially the deficiency of micronutrients represents an increased risk for the development of dementia, they are always a cause for investigation of their effect on the preservation of cognitive functions.
Multivitamin improves cognitive abilities
The journal Alzheimer's & Dementia recently published the results of a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina. The COSMOS-Mind (COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study of the Mind) study examined whether cocoa extract improves cognitive abilities in older adults compared to a commercially available multivitamin mineral (MVM). In its unprocessed form, the cocoa bean is rich in flavanols. Their cognition-enhancing effects have been supported by several epidemiological and small clinical studies in the past. Trials of individual micronutrients, such as folic acid and vitamin D, for their importance in cognition showed mixed results, but meta-analytic reviews concluded that the evidence was insufficient to recommend them.