Possible effects of dementia

6 June 2016

P2- Outline possible effects of dementia on an individual’s health and quality of life This assignment is going to outline possible effects of dementia on an individual’s health and quality of life. There are many different factors that having dementia will effect. As stated above some will affect the health of the person and others will affect the quality of life that the person will have. Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration. Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life.

At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without professional talking treatments (who.int, 2013). People who have dementia may suffer from depression. Depression and anxiety are common psychological conditions that are frequently experienced by people with dementia and their carers. A person with both dementia and depression will be struggling with two lots of difficulties.

They may find it even harder to remember things and may be more confused or withdrawn. Depression may also worsen behavioral symptoms in people with dementia, causing aggression, problems sleeping or refusal to eat. In the later stages of dementia, depression tends to show itself in the form of depressive ‘signs’, such as tearfulness and weight loss. Dealing with dementia will be difficult and many people who have dementia will be confused which could lead to depression. People with dementia are no longer in control of their body and their mind, this therefore can affect their thoughts and may lead to them being aware of this which may cause them to be depressed.

People who suffer from dementia have difficulties with their everyday activities such as getting dressed for example if they refuse help from a carer then they may end up wearing two dresses or wearing their clothes inside out, they may then later on in the day feel distressed at the fact that they are not dressed properly, which may cause aggression. A lot of the time people with dementia unfortunately do not know what they are doing, where they are and even who relatives are this may bring distress to both themselves and their family which may cause depression for them. A further effect of dementia can be having mood swings. Mood is the state of mind or emotion (thefreedictionary.com, 2013).

When suffering from dementia there will be many times where the person seems to be in a fit state however this can change dramatically within minutes, there are many moods that a person from dementia may suffer from such as aggression, feeling upset, grieving, they may feel alone and this is only the start. Mood plays a massive role in our lives our day to day thoughts will be similar to our thoughts such as if you are happy then you will have positive thoughts whereas if you are upset, unhappy then you may experience negative thoughts, this will control how the day goes. Suffering from dementia will lead people to have severe mood swings which will affect their lives, people with dementia will be extremely confused.

The term ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms which include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and damage caused by a series of small strokes. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. How fast dementia progresses will depend on the individual person and what type of dementia they have. Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. It is often the case that the person’s family and friends are more concerned about the symptoms than the person may be themselves (Alzhiemers.org.uk, 2013). An example may be a person with dementia dancing to music, laughing and genuinely looking happy, however they all of a sudden experience bad thoughts such as their partner is not coming to visit then they may become frustrated and angry, which could lead to them lashing out. When a person suffers from dementia then they are at an increased risk of falls.

People with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia tend to be at a high risk of falling. They are more than three times more likely to fracture their hip when they fall, which leads to surgery and immobility. The rate of death following a hip fracture for those with Alzheimer’s is also increased. Thus, fall prevention for people with dementia is critical. There are many causes for a person with dementia to fall over and jeopardise their health, the first is Physical Weakness, Gait Changes and Poor Balance, Lack of Physical Exercise, Memory Impairment, Poor Judgment and Visual Misperception, Alzheimer’s can affect the visual-spatial abilities, a person can misinterpret what he sees and misjudge steps, uneven terrain, shiny areas on the floor or changes in floor color. Be sure to have his vision checked regularly. People who suffer from dementia may also be at risk of mal-nutrition. People with dementia rely on others to help them to organise their day to day life such as preparing their meals.

People with dementia are at risk of mal-nutrition as they may not be physically able to provide themselves with a balanced diet, there may also be the issue that they are not able to remember whether they have eaten and therefore decide not to make themselves something to eat as they may believe that they have already eaten. Dementia can greatly affect a person’s relationship to food and eating. The behavioral, emotional and physical changes that take place as dementia progresses can all have an impact upon a person’s eating habits and on their intake of food and drink. It is important to do what you can to make sure that the person you are caring for enjoys their food and eats a healthy, balanced diet. As dementia progresses eating can become difficult for some people (Alzhimers.org.uk, 2013). When a person suffers from dementia their quality of life will change and may not be of a particularly good standard.

There are many reasons for this such as sleep difficulties, challenging behavior, being unable to learn new skills or maintain old skills, the person may suffer from low self-esteem and self-worth, many people that suffer from dementia will depend on others, they may have difficulty managing finances and finally they may not wish to socialise. As stated above people who suffer from Alzheimer’s will often suffer from sleeping difficulties. So far this is not clear why this is happening however it is a common symptom amongst most that suffer from dementia. Sleeping problems may occur due to the fact that there is changes in memory and behavior. Many older adults without dementia also notice changes in their sleep, but these disturbances occur more frequently and tend to be more severe in Alzheimer’s.

There is evidence that sleep changes are more common in later stages of the disease, but some studies have also found them in early stages (Alz.org, 2013). When a person suffers from dementia they may begin to have behaviour changes in the later onset, this may include aggression and deep emotions, which will change their behaviour. As dementia develops, it can cause behavior changes that can be confusing, irritating or difficult for others to deal with, leaving carers, partners and family members feeling stressed, irritable or helpless. Every person is unique with their own character traits. However there are certain types of behavior which are particularly common in people with dementia. Many people with dementia may suffer from repetitive behavior. People with dementia often carry out the same activity, make the same gesture, or ask the same question repeatedly. Medical professionals sometimes call this ‘perseveration’.

This repetition may be because the person doesn’t remember having done it previously, but it can also be for other reasons, such as boredom. People that suffer with dementia may also become restless. This can be a sign of hunger, thirst, constipation or pain, or the person may be ill or suffering from the side-effects of medication. Other possibilities are boredom, anger, distress or anxiety, stress due to noisy or busy surroundings, or lack of exercise. It may also be due to changes that have taken place in the brain. The person may behave in a way that other people find embarrassing because of their failing memory and general confusion. In a few cases, this may be due to specific damage to the brain.

Having a lack of inhibition may also occur for those that suffer. For example some people with dementia may undress in public, having forgotten when and where it is appropriate to remove their clothes. If this happens, take the person somewhere private, and check whether they are too hot or are uncomfortable or want to use the toilet. A further effect on a person’s quality of life may be being unable to learn new skills. A person with dementia is suffer from their brain slowly shutting down and therefore the brain cannot take on any new information, which is their short term memory. A person with dementia may not be able to recall recent events, appointments or even phone calls. This would be extremely frustrating for them, this would affect their quality of life as they cannot move on or look to the future as they will not be able to take on the information.

This assignment has outlined possible effects of dementia on an individual’s health and quality of life. There are many different factors that having dementia will effect. The assignment has looked at the effects of health such as having falls, a risk of malnutrition, have mood changes and depression. The assignment has also looked at possible effects on a person’s quality of life when they are suffering from dementia, these were sleeping difficulties, challenging behaviour, and finally being unable to learn new skills.

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