Dementia and Memory Loss
By: Brett Barker
Date: August 9, 2009
Dementia and Memory Loss
In today’s world, there are many people that have been diagnosed with dementia or some sort of memory loss. Types of dementia include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, and Chronic Brain Syndrome. ”www. Alzcombo.com” Although many of us have heard a lot about dementia, we really do not understand the disease process. Even though dementia is not curable, its effects can be slowed down, if caught in time. One may question what causes dementia, however, perhaps more importantly, we should consider complications associated with the disease process, treatment options, as well as available support for the individuals and their loved ones. Let us first begin with a definition of dementia: a progressive decline of mental functions such as language, attention, reasoning, memory, problem solving, and identifying people or objects. Dementia affects the person’s daily functions. Dementia is more commonly seen in older people but is not considered a normal part of aging. Dementia usually occurs in the second half of life, often around the age sixty five. There are several causes believed to lead to dementia. For unknown reasons, it can be caused by the degeneration of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain which major functions include memory, actions, thoughts, and personality. When these brain cells die, cognitive changes can begin to appear. Other causes of dementia can also be related to various diseases, infections, strokes, head injuries, or even drug and alcohol abuse. As dementia affects the brain, it does not stop the brain from working, but may alter or slow down the actions, thoughts, and personality of those suffering from the disease. A person may revert to a childlike state as the disease progresses. How is dementia diagnosed? A person must go to the doctor. Going to the doctor is the first step; the individual can not diagnosis themselves. During the appointment, he or she might recommend that the person make a follow-up visit with a geriatrician. A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in treating the aging. Part of the visit with the geriatric physician may include a medical work up. The work up may include, but is not limited to, a thorough medical history, review of medications, physical examination, laboratory tests, neurological examination, and neuropsychological testing. After these things are completed, the doctor is able to make the diagnosis of dementia, by ruling out any other possible conditions. In assessing the many factors that contribute to the diagnosis, it is also important to know the general state of health of the individual. Getting the appropriate diagnosis is very crucial for the patient, as this is very important in determining treatment. The goal for treatment is to slow down the progression of impairments associated with the disease process, and to control negative behavioral symptoms sometimes associated with dementia. Treatment may consist of medication (Namenda and Aricept are examples), psychotherapy, environmental modifications, and other therapies to help with activities of daily living. These may include a combination of speech, occupational, and physical therapies. Keeping an individual engaged in daily activities like crafts, music, and outdoor activities is believed to help with slowing down symptoms of the disease. Keeping them engaged and stimulated can be helpful, as well as simplifying daily routines and activities. Making tasks less complicated may decrease an individual’s frustration, confusion, and prevent over-stimulation. Over-stimulation can lead to aggression and negative behaviors. Examples of simplifying tasks may include: setting the table using only one set of utensils and serving only one food at a time. Another example might be to limit clothing choices...
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