Dementia: Alzheimer's Disease and Person

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Understand the process and experience of dementia.

1. Understand the neurology of dementia.

1.1 Describe a range of causes of dementia syndrome.

The Cambridge dictionary describes dementia as “ medical condition that affects especially old people, causing the memory and other mental abilities to gradually become worse, leading to confused behaviour”.

Basically dementia is a serious deterioration in mental functions such as memory, language, orientation and judgement. This illness however is still no where near fully understand. There are however a number of different types of dementia and their causes which have been identified.

Different types of dementia include:

- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Vascular dementia.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
- Biswanger’s Disease.
- Fronto-temporal disease.
- Dementia with lewy bodies.
- Huntington’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is described by the Alzheimer’s society as follows.

“ 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”.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

- Confusion and forgetfulness of names, place, appointments and recent events. - Emotional changes such as mood swings, feeling sad or angry, scared and frustration of the loss of memory. This in turn can lead to a loss of confidence or communication problems.

- Everyday activities become difficult as confusion enters into daily live.

Vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. This is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain.

Symptoms of vascular dementia.

- Symptoms of vascular dementia generally begin suddenly for example following a stroke.

- Problems with communication, speed of thinking and concentration.

- Symptoms of stroke such as physical weakness and paralysis.

- Memory problems.

- Seizures.

- Periods of severe confusion.

- Visual mistakes and misperceptions.

- Changes in behaviour

- Difficulties with working.

- Hallucinations.

- Continence problems.

- Psychological symptoms such as becoming more obsessive.

It is important to note that not all these symptoms will be present and some may not be, because of the condition.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

This condition is very, very rare and only effects about 1 person in every million worldwide. CJD usually starts in later life from the age of 60 years onwards. It has a very rapid onset and 90 percent of people who have this illness die within 1 year. There are three categories if CJD. Hereditary, sporadic and acquired.

Symptoms of CJD.

- Rapid progressive dementia.
- Problems with muscular co-ordination.
- Personality changes.
- Impaired memory, judgement and thinking.
- Impaired vision.
Other less common symptoms include:

- Insomnia.
- Depression.
- Unusual sensations.

There are different variants of this disease.

Biswanger’s Disease.

Biswanger’s Disease is also known as sub cortical vascular disease. It is a type of dementia caused by wide spread microscopic areas of damage to the deep layers of white matter to the brain. The damage is the result of the narrowing and the thickening of arteries that feed the subcortial areas of the brain.

Symptoms of Biswangers.

- Mental deterioration.
- Language disorder.
- Transient ischemic attack.
- Muscle ataxia.
- Impaired movement.

Fronto - Temporal Dementia.

This term covers a number of conditions including,
- Picks Disease.
- Frontal lobe degeneration.
- Dementia associated with motor neurone disease.

All of the above are caused by damaged to one or both of...
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