Dementia describes a group of chronic degenerative conditions of brain function. The type of dementia will determine the areas of the brain that are affected and its’ progression. It typically affects memory, communication skills, personality and reasoning.
The key functions of the brain affected by dementia are memory, ability to make decisions, ability to use reason and logic, personality, ability to communicate and bodily functions. Because of the degenerative nature of the disease such severe deterioration of brain functions can eventually lead to death.
Other conditions can be mistaken for dementia as the symptoms are the same or similar. It is common and quite normal for older people to have a degree of memory loss. If someone is depressed they can be, amongst other things, lethargic, confused and lack concentration. Delirium, which can be caused by medication or other illnesses could be mistaken, for example, with the confusion arising from dementia.
There are a number of different types of dementia,with varying aetiology and, within that, every individual will have a unique set of requirements. Typically a medical model for treatment would be routine drug therapies and a standard approach based on recommended protocols. This does not take into account the unique requirements of the patient which restricts their freedom of choice and doesn’t represent a person-centred approach.
The social model of caring for a person with dementia will be based on what is best for that person as an individual. Hopefully you will be able to work with them before their condition deteriorates too much to find out how they would like you to help support them as they worsen. The person will be able to access the support of a range of specialists and organisations. This approach respects their freedom of choice and will help to promote their independence and quality of life.