Dementia – A Life Altering Illness
As human beings whenever we go through life we are prone to periods of unhealthy behaviour, for which suitable understanding of the symptoms is necessary, in order to apply the most appropriate medical treatment and mitigation. Later in life, when recovery mechanisms of the body are slow it
maybe more difficult to return to full recovery, either mentally or physically, and can lead to lasting damage which becomes life altering.
Consequently, certain types of illnesses at a particular period of a persons life can cause permanent change to an individuals life. Dementia is one such illness which becomes life changing if a person is diagnosed with it.
There are many medical and social reasons for dementia, such as a traumatic brain injury which may cause general or local damage to the white matter of the brain. Alternatively, a stroke, brain infection or a temporary reduction to the brain in the supply of blood and oxygen, excessive use of recreational
drugs or alcohol, psychiatric reasons and genetic disorders may all cause a type of dementia.
Dementia begins gradually and progressively worsens over many years, this is usually caused by a neurodegenerative disease which primarily affects the neurons of the brain and leads to a systematic, irreversible loss of cell function.
A more rare, non-degenerative condition may have secondary effects on brain cells, which could be treated, sometimes reversibly. The causes of dementia usually depends upon the age at which symptoms begin.
In the elderly population, a large majority of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia or both.
Individuals who are impacted by frequent head trauma, such as sportsman (boxers and football players) are also at risk of dementia.
Although rare, young people may still suffer from dementia, it is usually Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Dementia start to lose their memory of daily matters but may still recall memories from their past. As the disease slowly worsens individuals then begin to forget about their personal hygiene, wellbeing, how to cook or clean in their own home, their own safety and lose ability to function as a
normal human being.
Some common symptoms of people with Dementia (such as Alzheimers disease) include :
- Memory loss sufficient to disrupt daily life
- Problem-solving difficulties
- Difficulty completing familiar daily tasks
- Confusion over time or place
- Problems understanding visual images
- Issues with spoken or written words
- Misplacing things
- Poor judgement
There are other factors which can affect a normal daily routine of an individual, for example, changes in health, carers, diet, medication, environment or home surroundings.
Management of an individuals medical conditions is critical, since memory problems may interfere with a person remembering to take important medications such as for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
The health and well-being of a person should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure any resulting needs can be actioned without delay. When monitoring somebody’s condition, it is important to record any findings in line with appropriate policies and procedures. When supporting somebody with
dementia, it may be of benefit to involve the family.
There are various types of Dementia :-
1. Alzheimer’s Disease – this is the most common form of dementia, accounting for nearly 70% of all diagnosed cases, and medications can delay the onset of more debilitating symptoms. Early diagnosis can prolong independence and is the first step towards treatment, management, and living life fully.
2. Vascular Dementia – this results from a series of small strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply. This severely impacts memory and cognitive functioning. However, there are ways to prevent and reduce its severity.
3. Mixed Dementia – this is a condition in which Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia occur simultaneously. Usually occurs in people of an advanced age, often indicated by cardiovascular disease and dementia symptoms that get worse slowly over time.
4. Pick’s Disease – Rare, this affects personality, orientation and behaviour; more common in women at an early age.
5. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease – Rare, this disease progresses rapidly along with mental deterioration and involuntary movements.
6. Huntington’s Disease – Rare, this is an inherited, degenerative disease, causing involuntary movement and usually begins during mid-life.
7. Parkinson’s Dementia –Rare, this is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.
8. Lewy Body Dementia –Rare, the individuals experience hallucinations and can become fearful.
The impact of receiving a diagnosis of dementia is huge on the individual and on the people around them as well, because this will involve a new lifestyle for all of them and they need to prepare for the outcome of the diagnostic.
An individual with dementia has to be prepared to seek help when they are in need, to admit to themselves that they need help and to accept it.
People with dementia should be encouraged to be part of their daily care routine if they can. Friends, family or Carers doing everything and not attempting to get help from the person can make the person feel like a burden and useless.
Dr Ghulam S Ashraf is a Content Writer for www.ringshomecare.co.uk