Dementia Syndrome is a condition caused by a set of symptoms. These symptoms can include but are not limited to: - memory loss, mood changes, communication difficulties, difficulty understanding or thinking.
Some causes of these symptoms are:- the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, therefore causing the brain cells to die.(Alzheimer’s disease) Once again this can be caused by various things, lack of oxygen to the brain (Vascular dementia), a build-up of proteins (Dementia with Lewy Bodies), frontal or temporal lobe damage (Pick’s Disease, CJD, Huntingdon’s or Parkinson’s)
Less common forms of dementia can include:- Infections of the brain (meningitis or encephalitis), Hydrocephalus, Under-activity of the thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism) Advanced stages of Syphilis or HIV/AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) the lack of certain hormones or nutrients, especially B vitamins.
Neurotransmitters in the brain such as, Dopamine, Serotonin, acetylcholine, noradrenalin and glutamate send messages to control our mood, behaviour, appetite, sleep patterns and memory. These neurotransmitters are unable to reduplicate so when they are damaged they cannot be replaced.
1.2 Describe the types of memory impairment commonly experienced by individuals with Dementia.
Memory covers a wide area of our lives and abilities. Individuals with Dementia struggle with memory loss in many areas. They can have an inability to recognise familiar objects; this can be their surroundings or faces of relatives or friends, remembering recent events or conversations, taking in new information, the loss of skills to carry out normal activities, Short or Long Term Memory Loss and fact versus fiction…they become confused with reality and imagined events.
Memory Loss particularly affects short term memory, example not being able to recall earlier conversations and forgetting what happened earlier in the day. Forgetting the way home from the shops and being repetitive. The Long Term memory is not usually affected but can be.
1.3 Explain the way that individuals process information with reference to the abilities and limitations of individuals with dementia.
Individuals process information via sensory input. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste this information can be stored into short term or long term memory. As dementia progresses the channels to access this information become blocked. This means that the individual may then not be able to process some types of information.
Memory is usually affected first and often it is just important things like the name of their husband or wife. As it progresses people become confused about things like where they are or what day it is or who other people are. They can become listless and lose interest in things that have previously been important to them, even forgetting how to do things that they have done for years. For example: knitting, boiling a kettle or making a sandwich. Their mobility can become slow or awkward. In the later stages they can have difficulty with contrast sensitivity or visual acuity or depth perception. I have recently worked with a lady who had difficulty stepping over a door tread believing it was a long drop the other side.
1.4 Explain how other factors can cause changes in an individual’s condition that may not be attributable to dementia
Other factors can have an impact on people with dementia. These can be things like side effects to medication like hallucinations, depression, anger and frustration at not being able to do the things they used to be able to do. Infections or dehydration, anxiety and emotional trauma for example forgetting that a loved one has died and having to relive the loss every time they are told. Moving house or attending a day centre may have a change on an individual’s mood or behaviours as will having different carers all the time.