Understanding Dementia In Singapore: Types, Symptoms, Causes, And More

Understanding Dementia In Singapore: Types, Symptoms, Causes, And More

Dementia Singapore

Dementia is a significant public health issue in Singapore with around 1 in 10 people aged 60 and above suffering from dementia. Statistics highlight a concerning rise, with projections suggesting that the number of people living with dementia in Singapore could increase to 152,000 by 2030

To foster deeper understanding of this condition, we will discuss dementia in Singapore – what it is, its types, symptoms, causes, and risk factors.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is not a single disease; rather, it is an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. This decline is severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells and affects people differently depending on the area of the brain involved.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60-80% of cases. However, there are several other types, including vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, and conditions like Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Each type of dementia may have distinct symptoms and can affect individuals differently based on its severity and progression.

What Are The Types of Dementia?

Dementia encompasses a wide range of specific medical conditions. Some of the major types of dementia are:

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the formation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, which disrupt cell function and lead to cell death. Symptoms often start with mild memory loss and gradually progress to severe brain damage. It is the most common type of dementia, affecting millions worldwide.

Vascular Dementia

Second to Alzheimer’s in prevalence, vascular dementia occurs due to blood vessel blockage or damage leading to strokes or bleeding in the brain. The symptoms of this type of dementia can vary widely and depend on the severity of the blood vessel damage and the part of the brain affected. It often occurs alongside other types of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the brain known as Lewy bodies. These affect chemicals in the brain that can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behaviour, and mood. LBD is particularly noted for its early symptoms of detailed visual hallucinations and motor symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

Frontotemporal Dementia

This type of dementia is characterised by damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain, affecting personality, behaviour, and language. Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is notable for its early onset, typically between the ages of 45 and 65. Unlike other forms, memory loss is not a prominent feature initially. Instead, changes in behaviour, difficulties in speaking, and emotional apathy are more common.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia involves symptoms of more than one type of dementia simultaneously. For example, a person may have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Studies suggest that mixed dementia is more common than previously thought, especially in older adults.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Some individuals with Parkinson’s disease — a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement — develop dementia in the later stages of their condition. The symptoms are similar to those of Lewy body dementia, which include cognitive impairment, difficulty with problem-solving, and trouble with attention and concentration.

Other Types

There are also less common forms of dementia, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a rare, fatal brain disorder caused by prion infection), normal pressure hydrocephalus (characterised by the buildup of fluid in the brain), and Huntington’s disease (a progressive brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4).

Each type of dementia may affect individuals differently and progress at varying rates. 

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Dementia?

Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause, but there are common signs that may indicate the presence of dementia. These include:

  • Memory loss – Especially forgetting recently learned information or important dates and events.
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks – Struggling with daily tasks or forgetting the steps involved in preparing a meal, using a device, or playing a game.
  • Problems with language – Trouble following or joining a conversation or finding the right words for objects.
  • Disorientation to time and place – Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time or forgetting where they are and how they got there.
  • Poor or decreased judgement – Changes in judgement or decision-making, such as paying less attention to grooming or being unusually generous with money.
  • Misplacing things – Putting things in unusual places, losing things, and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood and personality – Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may also be easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

Recognising these symptoms early can lead to a timely diagnosis, which can significantly improve the quality of life for those affected.

What Are The Causes And Risk Factors For Dementia?

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Some risk factors include:

  • Age – The likelihood of developing dementia rises significantly with age, particularly after the age of 65.
  • Genetics – Family history plays a role, especially in cases of early-onset dementia.
  • Cardiovascular factors – High blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and other heart-related issues can increase dementia risk.
  • Lifestyle choices – Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, and insufficient mental stimulation.
  • Other health conditions – Diabetes, obesity, depression, and chronic infections can also contribute to the risk of developing dementia.

Understanding these risk factors can help in crafting prevention strategies that may delay or prevent the onset of dementia.

Consult A Doctor For Dementia In Singapore

Health365 has partnerships with trusted healthcare providers in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Contact us for an introduction to a doctor for dementia diagnosis.

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This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.