Brain encephalopathy in the elderly

Encephalopathy of the brain in the elderly develops for a number of reasons, due to which the blood vessels are narrowed, and symptoms of oxygen starvation of the brain appear. Due to the deficiency of nutrients, neurons quickly die, and the ability of the brain tissue to recover is very limited. As encephalopathy progresses, it affects new areas of the brain in an elderly person. It destroys his personality, aggravates his health condition, causes dangerous neurological disorders – dementia, coma.

Neurons do not have time to compensate for the loss, therefore, a person develops cognitive abnormalities, coordination of movements, hearing, and vision deteriorate. Intellect suffers. 

Treatment of encephalopathy of the brain in the elderly is carried out with drugs, medications, physiotherapy. In severe cases, rarely, promptly. But no amount of procedures will be able to restore already destroyed parts of the brain. Today, doctors are only able to slow down the development of the disease, but not to cure it.


As a rule, cerebral encephalopathy develops in an adult after 50 years. Although in the presence of pathologically narrowed vessels, the pathology manifests itself earlier.  

There are many reasons that can provoke brain damage:

  1. Atherosclerosis – cholesterol plaques are deposited on the walls of the feeding arteries and narrow the lumen of the vessels. Thus, the amount of oxygen supplied to the neurons decreases and vascular encephalopathy develops.
  2. Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, progressing with age. Abnormal changes in the bones and processes of the spine narrow the vertebral artery, and also weaken the blood flow in the brain.
  3. Obesity – due to the deposition of adipose tissue in the neck, collar, the load on the circulatory system increases.
  4. TBI, head bruises. Damage to the cortex and the formation of hematomas interferes with blood circulation inside the skull.
  5. Hypertension and an abrupt change in blood pressure, with age, leads to a narrowing of the lumen in large and small vessels.
  6. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. Diabetic encephalopathy often develops by old age.  
  7. Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Gradually leads to the death of neurons.

When the first symptoms of encephalopathy appear at the age of 30-40, the disease will progress slowly. Since the body is still strong and able to compensate for the loss of neurons.

The older the sick person, the faster the state of his higher nervous activity worsens.

Classification and symptoms

What exactly is the danger of encephalopathy of the brain in the elderly depends on the cause that caused the development of the disease.

There are more than 10 types of degenerative processes in the brain, depending on their root cause. Concomitant chronic illnesses accelerate the deterioration of the patient’s condition.

First, general symptoms appear, just some signs stand out especially clearly and develop faster.

So, in elderly patients with tuberculosis, discirculatory encephalopathy, signs of neuronal death appear faster than in otherwise healthy people. 

Pathology staging

Cognitive and neurological disorders do not appear immediately. They develop gradually.

There are several stages of brain damage:

  • First, the symptoms are almost invisible. The person does not realize what is happening to him, since the condition is manifested by periodic dizziness, headaches. An increased feeling of fatigue is characteristic. Such changes in health are attributed to physical or psychological overload, age. It is possible to detect a pathological process in the brain only with instrumental examination.
  • Second, the main symptoms are aggravated. Sleep disorders occur, expressed in daytime sleepiness and nocturnal insomnia. Vision and hearing gradually deteriorate. At the second stage, there are grounds for registering a disability. 
  • Third, heavy. There is organic (anatomical) brain damage. There is nothing to compensate for dead neurons, and the neurological deficit becomes irreversible. Memory problems are expressed, intellect and the ability to move independently are critically reduced, fine motor skills are weakened. Disability sets in.

Typical symptoms

Typical symptoms associated with oxygen deprivation and encephalopathy in old age are:

  1. tinnitus, initially occurring intermittently against the background of fatigue, but gradually becoming constant;
  2. headaches of various localization;
  3. deterioration of speech, the person speaks indistinctly, the construction of sentences and the chosen vocabulary suffers;
  4. dizziness, periodic and persistent;
  5. decreased visual acuity and hearing;
  6. sleep disorders – during the day, a sick person is sleepy, tired, and by the evening and at night there comes a period of vigor, nervous excitement, insomnia; 
  1. tremor of the hands, periodic feeling of numbness in the limbs, skin;
  2. neuropsychiatric deviations leading to depression, outbursts of aggression;
  3. decreased intelligence, progressive memory impairment. 

In the initial stage, symptoms are very mild. Outwardly – only in fatigue, slight forgetfulness and a change in character. But with age, without treatment, the condition will deteriorate rapidly.


The clinical picture of senile encephalopathy of the brain is diverse. Symptoms are formed depending on the history, existing chronic diseases and the affected parts of the brain.

The correctness of the appointment depends on the correct diagnosis, and therefore the effectiveness of the treatment.

First, the patient is examined and interviewed by a doctor, we collect information about past and chronic diseases. Then laboratory and instrumental studies are assigned:

  • general and biochemical blood test for atherosclerosis, inflammatory reactions;
  • MRI of the brain, showing lesions, their number and size, the state of the blood flow system;
  • assessment of the state of the vessels of the fundus;
  • ultrasound examination of the vessels of the neck assesses their condition: the lumen, how narrowed by the bony processes of the vertebrae, at what speed the blood flows.

Based on the research results, it is possible to choose supportive treatment that slows down or stops the degradation of brain tissue.


The doctor’s task is to explain to the patient and his relatives that the symptoms and deterioration of the condition are not manifestations of age in an elderly person, but cerebral encephalopathy, in which taking medications and other procedures, the prognosis improves.

Systematic, comprehensive treatment, selected for a specific patient, postpones the moment of complete degradation for many years.

Operations are performed in rare cases, when the vascular lumen is critically narrowed by a removable cause and the patient is able to undergo the intervention. Vascular surgeons are involved in stenting the vessel, expanding the bone canal in the cervical vertebrae for the artery.

To maintain brain health, they use medication, physiotherapy, and lifestyle correction.

No operation will help restore the lost parts of the brain. They can only be compensated for in conservative ways. Or, what is better, save it with the methods of complex treatment. 

Cerebral encephalopathy is treated:

  • magnetotherapy;
  • reflexology;
  • electrophoresis;
  • exercise therapy exercises;
  • massage;
  • vortex fields;
  • optimization of the nutritional system and the patient’s regimen;
  • taking medications that improve blood circulation, reduce cholesterol production.

Without systematic treatment, taking medications, adherence to the regimen, the disease progresses rapidly. As a result, it leads to severe complications, premature dementia and death.

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