Dementia Introduction Dementia is a progressive brain dysfunction (in Latin ‘dementia’ means irrationality), which results in a restriction of daily activities and in most cases leads in long term need for care. Many diseases can result in dementia, the most common, Alzheimer’s disease (Dementia. com, 2007). Description of Dementia “Dementia describes a group of symptoms that are caused by changes in brain function.
Dementia symptoms may include asking the same questions repeatedly; becoming lost in familiar places; being unable to follow directions; getting disoriented about time, people, and places; and neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition. People with dementia lose their abilities at different rates. Dementia is caused by many conditions. Some conditions that cause dementia can be reversed, and others cannot” (PsychCentral, 2007). “The two most common forms of dementia in older people are Alzheimer’s disease and multi-infarct dementia (sometimes called vascular dementia).
These types of dementia are irreversible, which means they cannot be cured” (PsychCentral, 2007).
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“Reversible conditions with symptoms of dementia can be caused by a high fever, dehydration, vitamin deficiency and poor nutrition, bad reactions to medicines, problems with the thyroid gland, or a minor head injury. Medical conditions like these can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible” (PsychCentral, 2007). “Sometimes older people have emotional problems that can be mistaken for dementia.
Feeling sad, lonely, worried, or bored may be more common for older people facing retirement or coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend. Adapting to these changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful. Emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, or by professional help from a doctor or counselor” (PsychCentral, 2007). Symptoms of Dementia “The most recent memories are lost sooner than older ones, and new memories, perhaps of something that happened minutes earlier, are difficult to retain” (PsychCentral, 2007).
For example, a woman may ask her husband when they are scheduled to visit their children. “Saturday,” he might reply, minutes later, she may ask the same identical question. In the early stages of the dementia, however, she probably will have no difficulty identifying photos of the children, or even of casual friends, taken 30 years earlier. “In certain forms of dementia, behavioral changes (such as increased aggressiveness), may be prominent” (Healthscout. com, 2007). “As the disease progresses, patients lose the ability to function independently and become increasingly disoriented to time and place.
Wandering may become a significant problem” (Healthscout, 2007). “Patients become unable to care for themselves and grooming and dressing standards deteriorate rapidly. Patients often dress inappropriately for the season and confuse underwear with outer garments” (Healthscout. com, 2007). One of the precursors to dementia is strokes. Many strokes occur in individuals who are overweight and may suffer from diseases such as diabetes. According to (Adams, 2004), “future generations will no doubt look back on modern America and wonder how we could eat ourselves and drug ourselves into such a sad state of mental and physical health”