Progressive wasting of brain cells or loss of brain function due to hardening of arteries (arteriosclerosis); onset is slow, over years rather than months. Short-term memory is affected first - person occasionally forgets what happened hours or minutes ago, and has difficulty following conversations and trains of thought, or making sense of what he or she sees or reads. In early stages, person is well aware of what is happening; even in later stages, confusion may be punctuated by moments of lucidity.
With memory and reasoning impaired, person loses interest in activities which were once enjoyable; habitual behaviours which make up 'personality' break down; there is increasing emotional and physical instability, with unpredictable switches between apathy and aggression; social inhibitions, and sometimes sexual inhibitions, also go out of the window.
However, the label of senile dementia should not be too hastily applied. Failing eyesight or hearing, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, drugs, underactivity of thyroid gland (see Thyroid Problems), a brain tumour, a slow brain haemorrhage, a Stroke or Heart Attack, Hypothermia, Hypoglycaemia, urinary tract infections, and Depression can also produce confused mental states; in many cases, treatment of underlying cause improves intellectual performance.
Homeopathic medicine offers a number of specific remedies for failing mental powers; if the remedy you choose produces no improvement within 1 month, see your homeopath.
Specific remedies to be given every 12 hours for up to 3 doses
- Person once intellectually sharp and ambitious, now thin and withered, lacking in self-confidence, afraid of being alone, always using wrong words Lycopodium 30c
- Degenerative changes in blood vessels, enlarged prostate gland, weakness and tiredness, problems exacerbated by cold Baryta 30c
- Partial paralysis, blood vessels supplying brain affected by arteriosclerosis Aurum iod. 30c
- Atherosclerosis, craving for salt, person highly strung and very apprehensive Phosphorus 30c
Self-help: Make sure the diet contains plenty of Vitamins B and C, and also zinc and magnesium.