Dementia is a mental disorder when intellect, memory, attention, ability to think abstractly gradually decreases. The disease develops amid chronic brain pathology backdrop mainly in aging people. A gradual increase in dementia symptoms is characterized by:
- memory decreases;
- a person quickly becomes tired;
- a person is inhibited by thinking;
- hearing, sight, speech may be impaired;
This is considered to be a common illness among the elderly: 1 from 10 people over 65 suffer from dementia in the US.
The importance of understanding the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is enormous, because these two states are often confused. Both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with age-related brain changes, having a number of similarities. So, dementia is characterized by a gradual cognitive decline, including memory, speed of thinking, mental acuity, language abilities, understanding and judgment. The risk of developing dementia grows with age, as well as Alzheimer’s, but heredity, lifestyle and head trauma should be included in the list of risk factors for this disease. Moreover, the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is the weakening of memory functions. This is the loss of both neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex.
The causes of dementia
Finding out the dementia causes is still a difficult task. The disease of dementia overtakes mainly the elderly – people older than 85.4 years (20-40%) and those older than 65 years – 5% are in the main risk group. However, the disease can appear not only in old age, but also in youth because of trauma, inflammatory diseases of the brain, strokes, toxins exposure. Common risk factors include diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, coronary heart and peripheral vascular diseases.
How common is dementia?
Taken recent research into account, about 4-5 million people in America suffer from dementia, which is a reason to sound an alarm. The annual total number of new dementia cases is growing worldwide, so it is becoming one of the most common among the elderly and their psychological health. It is important the treatment of this disease requires significant expenditure – in 2010 it took up to 215 billion dollars a year, considering the fact approximately 102 billion dollars are spent on the treatment of heart diseases in USA, and the treatment of cancer requires only 77 million.
However, there are also pleasant moments – it seems the prevalence of this disease is gradually decreasing. Due to the research in 2016, we were able to learn the level of those suffering from dementia decreased from 11.6% to 8.8% in the period from 2011 to 2012, and this is a quarter. Experts can not say what is the reason for such a decline, but there is a version this was due to more modern methods of treating diabetes and high blood pressure, which, as we already know, are the main causative agents of this disease. This was also influenced by intellectual stimulation, a higher level of education, as well as an awareness of the disease seriousness. For the sake of prevention, older people are ready to do special exercises and follow the advice of doctors.
Signs and consequences of dementia:
First of all, the short-term memory suffers with the preservation of the long-term memory. Complaints of people on forgetfulness, applying for the same information several times. Having such a disease, forgetfulness increases, it becomes difficult to process new information, remember not only the location of familiar things, but also the names of relatives, their age, basic information, there is quite a bad attention. Also, there are problems with language and visual-spatial abilities.
The second symptom of the early disease stage is forgetfulness, apathy, the difficulty of remembering names. The interest to usual forms of pastime decreases, apathy comes to loss of hygienic skills: patients stop brushing their teeth, washing, changing clothes.
Symptoms include speech disorders, starting with an attempt to recall a familiar word and result in a complete inability to understand what they have heard, read, and the speech itself, being closed from close people, disturbing spatial orientation: difficulty in recognizing places, losing home, unclear comments and recurring questions.
The late stage is characterized by a complete loss of self-service ability, self-feeding, inability to control physiological processes, almost complete loss of speech, progressing to a complete loss of ability to move, swallow. Patients may not recognize their relatives, do not want to communicate with them.
Patients need constant care, may exhibit unjustified aggression.
Methods of treating dementia
Unfortunately, preventing the disease is not possible. Dementia of the elderly is treated only by specialists, prescribing medicines. Self-medication is unacceptable. Today, the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and most dementia types includes a combination of drugs, alternative drugs and therapeutic approaches that can slow the degenerative process. As a preventive, doctors advise taking more care and communicate with their relatives – because it can really prevent the disease.
It is desirable to identify pathology in the early stages of its development. So the disease is easier to control, and the patient can longer maintain both active physical and mental activity. Psychotherapy of music therapy, occupational therapy and psychotherapy are also prescribed – in order to preserve the patient’s social and motor skills. Care must also be taken to ensure the safety and quality of life for those who are suffering from dementia. Relatives and people who will take care of the sick, should be clearly informed about all the features of the ongoing disease.
How to take care of a patient with dementia
Dementia is a disease that develops gradually. The psychological, physical and economic burden, lying on those who care for their relatives, patients with dementia, is both difficult and controversial. Trustees have to play several roles: they protect him, become his carers, friends and “companions” , having to bear the brunt of making decisions about the lives of their wards. Unfortunately, they often become “enemies” in their eyes, to which disapproval and condemnation, even aggression, are addressed. Try to be patient and tolerant of the “strangenesses”. Help him by giving the simplest directions so that he can perform the action step by step under your guidance.
Sometimes patients behave perfectly, but sometimes he turns into alien, being unable to perform elementary actions. Be prepared for the fact you will have to help carry out all the hygiene procedures. Try to stay calm, do not show your own fear or anxiety.
If you need professional help or advice on care – please contact us via: https://www.devotedhc.com/