Dementia, A Truth To Endure

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  • DEMENTIA OR ALZHEIMERS DISEASE.Dementia, most commonly caused by Alzheimers Disease, has become a well known name in most family circles today. There are many Alzheimers patients in the world. As the early symptoms of this disease, expressed through the lives of people having them, are very confusing to others, we tend to treat them with aggression and anger, when they repeatedly fail to do normal human activities. This is most often, due to a sudden change seen in them, which irritates others. But we need to know, that most often than not, the younger and healthier family members are the ones, who need the first treatment, by way of counsel, to help them cope with increasingly surprising behavior of these patients.

    This presentation, throws light on various aspects of this disease.The educational information and value of this presentation, has been taken care off, by collecting information through reliable sources.

  • In Latin, the word Dementia means Irrationality. The origin of the term Alzheimer's disease, a form of Dementia, dates back to 1906 when Dr.Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, presented a case history before a medical meeting of a 51-year-old female who suffered from a rare brain disorder. His autopsy of the woman's brain identified the plaques and tangles that today characterize Alzheimer's disease. It is a gradual and progressive death of brain cells.

  • Dementia is the loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with a persons daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression.


  • SymptomsPeople in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease may experience lapses of memory and have problems finding the right words. As the disease progresses they may: Become confused, and frequently forget the names of people, places, appointments and recent events. Experience mood swings. They may feel sad or angry. They may feel scared and frustrated by their increasing memory loss. Become more withdrawn due either to a loss of confidence or to communication problems.

    As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer's will need more support from those who care for them. Eventually they will need help with all their daily activities. While there are some common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, it is important to remember that everyone is unique. No two cases of Alzheimer's are likely to be the same. People always experience illness in their own individual way.

  • ELABORATING THE SYMPTOMS FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING.It is often family or friends who first detect the problem. A person with Dementia may mislay items, become lost on a familiar way, including forgetting where the wash basin of the home is. They get confused in the middle of a conversation which eventually leads to disability in speech and writing. They develop inability to perform daily activities like brushing the teeth, dressing, and other motor skills practiced in their normal life. They forget to flush toilets, wash themselves clean, and may indulge in socially inappropriate behavior. They may stick their fingers into a live electric line as when plugging a domestic electric appliance. They lose their ability for abstract thought, planning and doing complex tasks. They find difficulty to understand books, movies, TV shows and news items. Infact, they lose interest in all these. While speaking, they find difficulty in remembering common words and names and substitute for appropriate names like, Where is the thing for sweeping? usually in search of the word Broom. They misidentify people, confusing sister with mother, husband with son or vice versa. They use empty phrases like You know, that thing etc. They lose sense of the time of day and may get up at midnight, brush their teeth, expecting that the next day has dawned. They suddenly change moods, become extremely confused, fearful, suspicious, angry and aggressive. They may even withdraw to self imposed seclusion. They develop fear for their own image on a mirror and hallucinate a lot. They become very passive in household activities. The list goes on and on.

  • WHAT CAUSES DEMENTIA?Dementia is usually caused by degeneration in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for thoughts, memories, actions and personality. Death of brain cells in this region leads to the cognitive impairment which characterizes dementia. Disorders that cause dementia include conditions that impair the Vascular (blood vessels) or Neurologic (nerve) structures of the brain. A vast majority of cases of dementia are not caused by an inherited genetic faults. Dementia is so common, that having one or two close relatives with dementia is not evidence of a family link.

    The genetic factors associated with dementia The genetic factors associated with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia can be summarized as follows:There is no single gene responsible for all cases of dementia Genetic factors only directly cause the disease in a very small number of families with dementia Among cases without a family link, there is a genetic component to the disease; however, inherited factors alone do not explain why some people develop it and others do not.

  • TREATMENTThere is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, there are a number of drug treatments available that can ameliorate the symptoms or slow down the disease progression in some people. People with Alzheimer's have been shown to have a shortage of the chemical acetylcholine in their brains. The drugs usually administered, work by maintaining existing supplies of acetylcholine. These drugs are only helpful for people with mild to moderate dementia. Side-effects may include diarrhoea, nausea, insomnia, fatigue and loss of appetite.However there are some newly launched drugs in the UK in 2002. These drugs work in a different way. It prevents the excess entry of calcium ions into brain cells. Excess calcium in the brain cells damages them and prevents them from receiving messages from other brain cells. Ebixa (do not consume without medical prescription) is the only drug that is suitable for use in people in the middle to later stages of dementia. Side-effects may include hallucinations, confusion, dizziness, headaches and tiredness.These drugs are not a cure, but they may stabilize some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease for a limited period of time.

  • CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA.Its very important that people with dementia are treated with respect. If you can understand what the person is going through, it might be easier for you to realise why they behave in certain ways. It is important to remember that a person with dementia is still a unique and valuable human being, despite their illness. When a person with dementia finds that their mental abilities are declining, they often feel vulnerable and in need of reassurance and support. The people closest to them, including their carers, friends and family, need to do everything they can, to help the person to retain their sense of identity and feelings of self-worth. A person with dementia needs to feel respected and valued for who they are now, as well as for who they were in the past. As a carer, there are many things you can do to help:Try to be flexible and tolerant. Make time to listen, have regular chats, and enjoy being with the person. Show affection in a way you both feel comfortable with. Things to remember: Each person with dementia is a unique individual, with their own very different experiences of life, their own needs and feelings, and their own likes and dislikes. Although some symptoms of dementia are common to everyone, dementia affects each person in different ways. Everyone, including friends, family members, carers, and the person with dementia, reacts to the experience of dementia in their own way. Dementia means different things to different people. As someone caring for a person with dementia, you need to take account of the persons abilities, interests and preferences. These may change as the dementia progresses. Its not always easy, but try to respond flexibly and sensitively.

    If someone is not used to being around people with dementia, here are a few things to emphasise: Dementia is nothing to be ashamed of. It is no ones fault. If the person tends to behave in ways that other people find irritating or upsetting, this may be because of the dementia its not deliberate. The person with dementia may remember the distant past more clearly than recent events. They are often happy to talk about their memories, but anyone listening, needs to be aware, that some of these memories may be painful. (Continued next slide)

  • Need to acting with courtesy Many people with dementia have a fragile sense of self-worth; its especially important that people continue to treat them with courtesy, however advanced their dementia. Be kind and reassuring to the person youre caring for without talking down to them. Never talk over their head as if they are not there especially if youre talking about them. Include them in conversations. Avoid scolding or criticising them this will make them feel small. Look for the meaning behind their words, even if they dont seem to be making much sense. Whatever the person is s