What is senile dementia? Senile dementia is the mental deterioration (loss of intellectual ability) that is associated with old age. Two major types of senile dementia are identified: those due to generalized atrophy (Alzheimer type) and those due to vascular problems (mainly strokes). Senile dementia is often used when referring to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is most likely to affect older people: of all people over 80, 20% suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Senile dementia is actually a group of several different diseases. The common ones are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Lewy body disease.
In Alzheimer’s disease, the commonest form, the brain atrophies and abnormal proteins, called amyloid, accumlate in the brain substance, in the form of senile plaques. In addition, abnormal filaments appear in the brain cells, the neurons, and they are called neurofibrillary tangles. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of senile dementia. The causes are not yet known, and up to now there is no effective treatment. Patients with Alzheimer’s isease deteriorate very gradually, so the disease is often not detected in its early stages.
Multi-infarct dementia is caused by a series of minor strokes. It usually results from damage to the small blood vessels in the brain causing deprivation of blood supply to the brain cells thus affecting its function. Patients’ abilities will decline in ladder-like pattern. Other causes of senile dementia include depression, poor nutrition, thyroid dysfunction, drug poisoning, alcoholism, and so on. This kind of dementia can often be corrected by treating the underlying diseases. Senile ementia is a disease caused by degeneration of the brain cells.
It’s different from normal senility in the elderly. The patient’s brain function will gradually deteriorate resulting in progressive loss of memory and mental abilities, and noticeable personality changes. 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 f 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. Senile Dementia By Lopaka78