Dementia has a reputation for enrolling only the elderly under its fold. 1 in 10 people aged 65 or above have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. Only about 5% of the five million plus Alzheimer’s patients in the US have dementia at a young age. This means that the number of young people with the degenerative disorder is small.
So, when the odds of getting early onset dementia are slim, dementia in children has to be a figment of someone’s ugly imagination. Unfortunately, that is a wrong guess. As painful as this may sound, dementia in children is real, only it hasn’t received as much attention as Alzheimer’s among senior folks.
What is dementia?
Before diving any deeper, it is essential to clear what dementia is. You probably recognize dementia from the movie, The Notebook. If you rack your brains, you’ll recall that it is a disorder of the brain that snatches the memory of the victim.
Sadly, that is only the tip of the iceberg. The ailment negatively impacts its patient’s cognitive abilities so much so that he suffers from an impaired focus, reasoning, communication, and language.
Once a dementia test online diagnoses the degenerative disorder, there’s no going back. The affected brain’s gears shift backward as the cognitive abilities decline. This is the reason why scientists use the term ‘progressive’ to describe the nature of dementia.
Put simply, dementia steals the patient’s memory and mental ability to function optimally. In the subsequent stages of the disease, a person becomes entirely dependent on his caregiver. On top of this, there is no cure for the psychiatric concern.
Dementia in Children
If you know someone with dementia or a close loved one having this brain ailment, then you already know how cruel the disorder is. If you don’t have an idea, then the words above may have given you a scoop of what dementia does to a person. Consequently, when it comes to children, the idea sounds even more horrific.
According to a recent study, children as young as three years old can develop dementia. It highlights that tots who inherit the gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease develop a small memory. They score only half as well in memory and thinking tests as other healthy children of their age.
Causes of Dementia among Kids
There are multiple culprits behind dementia in children if you are wondering about what causes dementia. Typically, a brain injury is blamed for the development of dementia among minors. This is one of the reasons why it is crucial to usher your kid immediately to the emergency when he significantly hurts his head.
Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL) are a rare but important culprit behind the mental disorder. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL) are a cluster of lysosomal storage disorders that correlate to progressive deterioration of the brain. The disease aggravates with the inflammatory response in the brain.
The good news is that researchers from the University of Würzburg are of the view that established therapeutic drugs may help against childhood dementia. This is the only optimistic snippet concerning dementia in children considering the disease simply robs a patient’s childhood.
There are other factors that encourage the development of dementia at a young age too. These include:
-Heavy metal poisoning
Exposure to heavy metals, for example, lead, can result in the development of symptoms of dementia among young ones. The adverse health effects of heavy metal poisoning can show well into adulthood.
Viral infections such as encephalitis also shoulder the responsibility of causing childhood dementia. Children that are less than one-year-old are at higher odds of developing encephalitis.
-Lafora body disease
This is a neurodegenerative ailment that children inherit. It starts with epileptic seizures that aggravate with time. Children who face the Lafora disease experience cognitive decline too. This can ultimately lead to dementia.
An underactive thyroid gland characterizes hypothyroidism. This gland is responsible for making the thyroid hormone which, in turn, helps in the growth and development of the brain. The condition can reach a finale of cognitive decline and, subsequently, dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia in Children
The signs of dementia in kids tend to be similar to the symptoms of elderly dementia. However, it can be tough to recognize the symptoms because there is a possibility that your child has some other health condition that mimics the brain disorder.
To be entirely sure, a physician looks for at least two impaired cognitive functions in the child. These symptoms need to show in a kid without any loss of consciousness.
Here are some telltale indicators of dementia in minors:
- Memory loss
- Loss of intellectual skills
- Lack of emotional control
- Behavioral problems
- Frequent forgetfulness
- Problems in language
- Personality changes
- Unreasonable anxiety, fear or nervousness
Dementia Management and Treatment
For the time being, most types of dementia do not have a cure. The treatment often depends on the cause of the problem. Hence, only a physician can tell if a particular child’s condition is treatable or not. Symptoms can be better managed with the help of medication.
In any case, a child needs all the support that he can get. Therefore, parents should develop an effective support solution to manage their child’s symptoms. For instance, set a routine for your kid so that he can perform his daily activities in an orderly fashion.
Teach your little bean to solve crossword puzzles and such games. Encourage learning and use memory aids. Try to avoid any confrontations and arguments. It is best to stick by the golden rule of “prevention is better than cure”.
In this regard, keep your child socially active. Get him new books and games to keep his brain active. Lastly, save your child from a head injury. In case of a traumatic head injury, take your child to the doctor.
Summing up, dementia is a cruel disease, and it can impact children too. Although cases of dementia in children are rare, awareness is essential. Provide a healthy and stress-free environment to your kids. Don’t forget to keep them mentally stimulated.
Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon
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