Dementia is defined as an acquired impairment of memory, intellect and personality without any impairment of consciousness. This impairment can often lead to a deterioration of emotional control and social skills. While the term is used to refer to the debilitating illness itself, it is also used to refer to the process of deterioration. The early stages of dementia in men and women are known as pre-senile dementia, generally accepted as being before the age of 65.
Dementia in men is often undetected in its early stages. This is thought to be the result of the characterization of dementia-like symptoms as being typical of the aging process. Additionally, dementia symptoms differ between individual men. According to the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, common symptoms of early stages of dementia include memory loss, confusion, difficulty with routine tasks, disorientation with familiar surroundings and personality changes, such as increasing apathy and irritability.
Depression and dementia
Chronic emotional dysfunctions such as depression are thought to help cause the early stages of dementia in men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, loneliness and anxiety, perhaps due to the loss of a spouse, can become a chronic condition with depressive traits. Cardiovascular dysfunction and disease, such as heart attacks and strokes, can also lead to a chronic state of depression that may trigger early stages of dementia in men.
Other possible causes
The most common causes of dementia in men are diseases that cause the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. According to an article reviewed by the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic Neuroscience Center, biological reactions, such as toxicity from drug or alcohol abuse or nutritional deficiencies, may also be causal factors. Infections of the brain and spinal cord can also be a cause, as well as head trauma and diseases in other major organs. All of these factors can contribute to early stages of dementia in men.
Treating dementia in early stages will depend on whether specific causal factors have been identified. Yet certain conditions that may contribute to early stages of dementia in men have been examined. A 2006 study reported by the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed a connection between high blood pressure and dementia in men. This study focused on men under the age of 65 who had high-blood pressure. Findings based on the study of control groups among these men indicated a higher rate of dementia in those whose high blood pressure was untreated or minimally treated as opposed to men who received proper medications.
According to a study which was reported in the Archives of Neurology, a link between lowering cholesterol levels due to aging and early stages of dementia has been studied. Although a direct causation of dementia due to low cholesterol has not been established, the degenerative side effects of lower cholesterol levels on neurological functions have been established. Additionally, a propensity of men with low cholesterol levels to carry a certain gene (APOE epsilon-4) has led to further research along these lines.