Cortical Dementia – How does it affect a patient

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Cortical Dementia or Subcortical Dementia?


Cortical dementia comes from damage to the out layer of the brain.  The word Cortical is a version of the word cortex which is the part of the brain that we are most familiar with, the twists and rolls of the outer part of the brain. It is the outer layer of the brain that will suffer from visible atrophy or shrinkage therefore causing loss of normal brain functioning. Subcortical dementia is found in the areas underneath the cortex or outer layers.


Dementia is not a Disease


Dementia is a symptom of many different disorders or diseases. That is, it is not a disease in and of itself, it is the result of diseases of conditions. The different causes of dementia affect the age of onset, whether the onset is sudden or slow. It affects how it responds to therapy such as whether it will be reversible or not.


Different Classifications of Dementia


Different types of dementia are classified as mixed or localized. The mixed dementia category usually means that there is more than one disorder present at the same time. Such as multi-infarct dementia or a patient could have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia at the same time. While localized dementia is classified as cortical dementia, subcortical or axial dementia.



Different types of Cortical Dementia


The best known cortical dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Other types of cortical dementia are Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Binswanger’s disease, Pick’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.


The signs and symptoms of cortical dementia


The Cortical layer of the brain is known for handling functions such as language and memory. Early symptoms may include difficulty in remembering names or appointments, forgetting about important events or trouble remembering recent conversations. This can be accompanied by depression and/or apathy. During the later stages of dementia signs may include difficulty trying to communicate, behavioral changes, disorientation, bad judgement, confusion and loss of control trying to walk, speak or swallow.


Subcortical dementia


Since we know that cortical refers to the outer layer of the brain and the prefix “sub” means below or under we can deduce that Subcortical means under the outer layer or cortex. Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s dementia and AIDS related dementia are some of the types of subcortical dementias. Signs of subcortical dementia can include slowing of the thought process or a patient not acting like themselves. Memory and language actually seem unaffected in the earlier stages of subcortical Dementia.


How to help Dementia Sufferers


If a friend or loved one is showing signs of dementia encourage them to see professional physician who can perform tests to accurately diagnose the patient. If they are reluctant to do so, try very hard to convince them to see a doctor.

Early detection is very critical to the patient’s treatment and quality of life. Not to mention that some types of dementia are reversible such as dementia that is caused by thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies.


Delirium and Dementia Testing


It’s important to keep in mind that many elderly people can have dementia like symptoms to surgery, infections, lack of sleep, dehydration, loneliness, personal crisis or poor diet. This is called delirium.  Early detection is a must therefore proper testing and diagnosis can only be administered by trained professionals such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist.


Helpful Tips and Signs to Look For


Here are a few tips to help when trying to cope with dementia or trying to help a loved one. It helps to know some of the signs of dementia also.


Early Signs of Dementia


  • Strong lack of concentration
  • Losing train of thought mid-sentence
  • Forgetting a word
  • Forgetting the meaning of a word
  • Forgetting names beyond normal
  • Using the wrong word


Ten Tips to Help Communicate with Dementia Patients


  1. Use easy words
  2. Always listen
  3. Never, ever argue with patient
  4. Use easy sentences that aren’t too long
  5. Answer questions as well and simply as possible
  6. Use labels when you are able (your coffee cup or your slippers)
  7. Talking very calmly and clearly
  8. Use touch from time to time to reassure them
  9. Use proper body language
  10. Use visual aids and signs





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