What is dementia?
Dementia is a gradual loss of brain functions. The most common form of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease but there are many other forms of dementia including: alcohol related dememtias,vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementias and Lewy body dementia. Key functions of the brain that are affected by dementia.
Each case of dementia is different. The area of the brain affected will depend on the type of dementia. Dementia can affect every area of thinking, feeling, and behaviour. It will eventually also affect the persons physical functions. Why depression, delirium and age related memory impairment may be mistaken for dementia? All the above manifest with similar symptoms. Depression coupled with age related memory impairment looks the same as dementia to the untrained eye. Depression and delirium can be treated with medication. However, once treated, age related memory loss can be assessed. If it is dementia it can not be cured although medication can be used to ease the symptoms.
Medical model of dementia
Dementia as a clinical syndrome is characterised by global cognitive impairment,which represents a decline from previous level of functioning, and is associated with impairment in functional abilities and, in many cases, behavioural and psychiatric disturbances.
The Social Model definition of dementia
‘The loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the community on an equal level with others because of physical and social barriers’ and refers to being disabled as having an impairment defined as ‘the loss or limitation of physical, mental or sensory function on a long-term or permanent basis’.
Why is dementia viewed as a disability?
In contrast to a medical model the social model regards dementia as an impairment, where a marked difference can be made to quality of life by the way people with dementia are supported.
Common causes of dementia
The main common causes of dementia are age, genetics and medical history. These factors coupled with any possible other medical diseases can cause or accompany dementia, such as:
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Posterior Cortical Atrophy
Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
Traumatic Brain Injury
Dementia risk and possible prevention
The main risk factors of dementia are age and genetics, this cannot be changed. However, researchers continue to explore the impact of other risk factors on brain health and prevention of dementia. Some of the most active areas of research in risk reduction and prevention include cardiovascular factors, physical fitness, and diet.