Dementia is a common condition that affects about 800,000 people in the UK. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65. Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:
People with dementia can lose interest in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change. A person with dementia may lose empathy (understanding and compassion), they may see or hear things that other people do not (hallucinations), or they may make false claims or statements. As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organizing difficult. Being independent may also become a problem. A person with dementia will therefore usually need help from friends or relatives, including help with decision making. Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways to slow it down and maintain mental function. Dementia is a collection of symptoms including memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions resulting from disease or trauma to the brain. These changes are not part of normal aging and are severe enough to impact daily living, independence, and relationships. There will likely be noticeable decline in communication, learning, remembering, and problem solving. These changes may occur quickly or very slowly over time. Common signs and symptoms of dementia include:
Difficulties with abstract thinking
Loss of communication skills
Disorientation to time and place
Gait, motor, and balance problems
Neglect of personal care and safety
Hallucinations, paranoia, agitation
Types of dementia:
There are many types of dementia some of them are:
Alzheimer’s disease: it is the most common disease cause of dementia and affects around 496.000 people in UK. Alzheimer’s disease, first described by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, is a physical disease affecting the brain. During the course of the disease, protein ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ develop in the structure of the brain, leading to the death of brain cells. People with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brain. These chemicals are involved with the transmission of messages within the brain. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, the symptoms become more severe. Vascular dementia: Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain.
Vascular dementia affects different people in different ways and the speed of the progression varies from person to person. Typically, the symptoms of vascular dementia begin suddenly, for example after a stroke. Vascular dementia often follows a ‘stepped’ progression, with symptoms remaining at a constant level for a time and then suddenly deteriorating. Some symptoms may be similar to those of other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, people with vascular dementia may particularly experience: problems with speed of thinking, concentration and communication depression and anxiety accompanying the dementia symptoms of stroke, such as physical weakness or paralysis memory problems (although this may not be the first symptom) seizures Periods of severe confusion.
Also there are different types of vascular dementia. The difference between these types depends on what has caused the damage in the brain, and which part of the brain has been damaged. Dementia with lewy bodies (DLB): this type of dementia shares symptoms with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. DLB it’s often mistakenly diagnosed as some other conditions. Lewy bodies, named after the doctor who first identified them, are tiny deposits of protein in nerve cells. Researchers don’t have a full understanding of why Lewy bodies appear in the brain, or how they contribute to dementia. However, their presence is linked to low levels of important chemical messengers and to a loss of connections between nerve cells. Over time, there is progressive death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. Lewy bodies are the underlying cause of several progressive diseases affecting the brain and nervous system, notably DLB and Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms a person experiences will depend on where the Lewy bodies are in the brain. Lewy bodies at the base of the brain are closely linked to problems with movement (motor symptoms). These are the main feature of Parkinson’s disease.
Lewy bodies in the outer layers of the brain are linked to problems with mental abilities (cognitive symptoms), which are characteristic of DLB. Movement problems and changes in mental abilities can occur together. About one third of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eventually develop dementia. Similarly, at least two thirds of people with DLB develop movement problems at some point. The symptoms of DLB and Parkinson’s disease dementia become more similar as the conditions progress. Together they are referred to as Lewy body dementias. P2: Outline possible effects of dementia on an individual’s health and quality of life. As dementia progresses, memory loss and difficulties with communication often become very severe. In the later stages, the person is likely to neglect their own health and require constant care and attention. Intellectual effects: People with advanced dementia may not recognise close family and friends; they may not remember where they live or know where they are. They may find it impossible to understand simple pieces of information carry out basic tasks or follow instructions.
Physical effects: Some forms of dementia don’t get worse over time. But Alzheimer’s and many other dementias do worsen, and they include physical changes that can have an impact on an individual’s health. It is not uncommon for people in the later phases of dementia to move in a stiff or jerky manner. Especially with Alzheimer’s, stiff, jerky movements just tend to happen as the dementia progresses. People who suffer from dementia also tend to become physically unable to control their body functions, reminding them to go to the bathroom once every two hours can help. Some people may eventually be unable to walk and may become bedbound. People with vascular dementia may also experience stroke-like symptoms, including muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of their body. Language: Communication problems; It is common for people with dementia to have increasing difficulty speaking and they may eventually lose the ability to speak altogether.
It is important to keep trying to communicate with them and to recognise and use other, non-verbal means of communication, such as expression, touch and gestures. Social effects: people who suffer from dementia may become less sensitive to other people’s emotions, perhaps making them seem cold and unfeeling. They also tend to lose interest in activities such as socialising with others. As the illness progresses you’ll have to start discussions in order to get the person to make conversation. This is common. Their ability to process information gets progressively weaker and their responses can become delayed. Eating, appetite and loss of weight: Loss of appetite and weight loss are common in the later stages of dementia. It’s important that people with dementia get help at mealtimes to ensure they eat enough. Many people have trouble eating or swallowing and this can lead to choking, chest infections and other problems. Economic impacts:
Dementia has significant social and economic implications in terms of direct medical costs, direct social costs and the costs of informal care. Impact on families and caregivers
Dementia is overwhelming for the families of affected people and for their caregivers. Physical, emotional and economic pressures can cause great stress to families and caregivers, and support is required from the health, social, financial and legal systems.
M1: Asses possible effects of different types of dementia on individuals and their families. Caring for a person with dementia can be challenging. The needs of the person may often come before your own and this can mean that you struggle to manage everything. There are positive aspects of caring, such as learning new skills, building on existing ones, strengthening relationships and supporting someone who is important to you. However, it can also be both physically and mentally exhausting. It affects all aspects of your life and can lead to increased isolation, stress, conflicting emotions and sometimes depression. Carers also have their own physical and mental health needs, which can be overlooked when caring for a person with dementia. It is important for carers look after them so that they do not become unwell and can continue to support the person they care for. Some of the feeling carers/family often develop while looking after a person with dementia are: Guilt
It’s very common to feel guilty for the way the person with dementia was treated in the past, guilty at feeling embarrassed by their odd behaviour, guilty for lost tempers or guilty for not wanting the responsibility of caring for a person with dementia. If the person with dementia goes into hospital or residential care you may feel guilty that you have not kept him at home for longer, even though everything that could be done has been done. It is common to feel guilty about past promises such as “I’ll always look after you,” when this cannot be met. Grief and loss
If someone close develops dementia, the people who were around them are faced with the loss of the person they used to know and the loss of a relationship. People caring for partners may experience grief at the loss of the future that they had planned to share together. Anger
It is natural to feel frustrated and angry—angry at having to be a caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out, angry at the person with dementia for her difficult behaviours. Sometimes people feel like shaking, pushing or hitting the person with dementia. Feelings of distress, frustration, guilt, exhaustion and annoyance are quite normal. However, if the care giver feels like this he/she should talk to a doctor or a member of their society. Children and teenagers are also affected by the fact that someone from their family e.g. grandmother develops dementia. Children often experience a wide range of emotions when a parent or grandparent has Alzheimer’s disease. Younger children may be fearful that they will get the disease or that they did something to cause it. Sometimes the younger members of the family do not get all the attention they need because of so much focus on the person who has dementia. They can end up feeling left out.
As children do not know or recognize the illness they may feel confused at the person’s behaviour towards them and can also feel sad because the person with dementia does not longer recognize them. Children may feel fearful because of an unexplained bad behaviour from the person with the illness and this can affects them emotionally. Teenagers may become resentful if they must take on more responsibilities or feel embarrassed that their parent or grandparent is “different.” College-bound children may be reluctant to leave home.
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