Dementia: A Great Problem That Impacts People
Have you ever forgotten someone’s name or forgotten where you left your pencil or pen? Well then, you may have some of the symptoms of dementia. Most likely, it’s nothing to worry about but, dementia is a very common problem that affects over three million people every year. Dementia is characterised as a group of thinking or social symptoms that would severely inhibit your daily functions. Being that Dementia is not a specific disease, it can lead to the most common disease called Alzheimer’s. Dementia mainly affects the brain and its ability to do a lot of normally simple tasks. Some of the most prevalent symptoms include memory loss and forgetfulness, as well as a gradual decrease in the ability to think. There are many other symptoms to be explained further on. Memory loss by having dementia is usually gradual because as time goes on your brain is affected more and more by the disease the memory loss just gets worse and worse in the short term, such as repeatedly having to ask the same question until it eventually affects the long term memory of a person, such as family members names to the ability to eat and breathe. The ability to think is another very common symptom because as dementia progresses, the affected mind becomes clouded and it becomes hard to process thoughts. An article written about a doctor who had to eventually resign from his job due to his dementia it is stated, “ He had for several years tried to ignore the gathering clouds in his brain. He learned to fill his daily phone calendar to overflowing, dozens upon dozens of reminders.He forgot the names of patients and nurses. He misplaced his pager and lost his hospital badge. He attributed this to the wages of too many hours and stresses. He downloaded apps so that he’d know which antibiotics to prescribe, which birth control pills to recommend. Some days, by evening, he grew scared and he would think to himself: Tomorrow I’ve got to see someone about this. He would forget that by the time he awoke.” (Powell, 2019) This article written perfectly explains some of the most common symptoms associated with dementia and its detrimental effects on a person’s career and life.
The history surrounding dementia starts back as early as the Greek empire in 700 B.C.E. where the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras talked about the physical decay of a human, which included some of the known symptoms of dementia. But it wasn’t until the 1800’s where doctors of that time believed that dementia of the elderly was attributed to a larger brain dysfunction and disease, called cerebral atherosclerosis, which is plaque build up in the brain. In 1907 Alzeihmer’s disease was first talked about which started a marking a wave of dementia like symptoms to be brought about. Originally, dementia was thought to only affect the elderly, which isn’t necessarily true, and that the mental decline as you become older was natural with the aging of the human brain. By the 1970s it was thought that dementia was rarer than previous thought and that Alzheimers was the main cause of mental loss, but then later on in that time it was decided that dementia can host many different symptoms encompassing Alzheimer’s disease. Later on in the 70s dementia and alzheimers was considered to be one of the leading causes of death. Most recently, scans on the brain became more advanced and we are now able to differentiate different types of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia has a major impact on those affected by it. In its beginning stages, people often just suffer from general short term memory loss and forgetfulness. But as it progresses and becomes more advanced, it becomes harder to perform normal tasks such as getting dressed or speaking because the memory loss becomes so bad. Elderly people with dementia, usually around the age sixty or later can become senile and cannot function without someone assisting them full time. Finally, dementia will kill someone when the symptoms become so strong that the ability to move or breathe are forgotten and the people who have it will suffocate or starve. Psychologically, the brain has lost most of its function and people who have dementia will easily become confused or lost and cannot function in normal society due to the deteriorating condition of their brain. In a news article written about a man accused of stabbing his wife to death, may not be able to stand trial due to possibly having dementia. This article greatly explains the psychological health of someone who may be unwell and cannot function correctly. It is stated in the article about the 83 year old Melbourne man, “An elderly man accused of the stabbing murder of his wife in their home in Melbourne’s north may have dementia and could not consent to having his DNA taken.”(Mills, 2019) Not being able to give consent during an investigation on you shows a lot about the mental state and the psychological health of the affected.
Dementia is actually a very common problem. It is stated from WebMD that there are over three-million cases of dementia and dementia like symptoms every year. Being such a common problem, there are a lot of treatments however no cure. “dementia is a terminal disease, one whose burdens can overwhelm family caregivers. It robs patients of their identities in a way few other illnesses do, sometimes causing loved ones to mourn them while they’re still living.’ (Span, 2018) When someone is diagnosed with dementia there is no way to stop it and cannot be cured. The best treatment to use depends on how severe it has become. If it is not very severe some of the best treatments include cognitive and neurological testing. In these tests, the tester will ask the person with dementia various questions that require a reasonably good short term and long term memory, for example they may ask the date or the names of the person’s kids. Based on these answers you can then direct the patient to the correct form of treatment or management. Therapies are often used to help manage dementia. Occupational therapy is used to help a person become safer in their place of work or at home and reduce the amount of memory lost as well help the patient know what to do if you ever forget something very important or have a major lapse in judgement. In addition to therapies, some medications can help with the symptoms of dementia such as memantine, which helps the brain have a better memory and more normalized thinking and learning skills. Furthermore, cholinesterase inhibitors are often prescribed to help people with dementia as this medication also helps with memory as well as judgement skills, which may start to decline as dementia advances.
I chose the topic of dementia to write and learn about because it has always interested me. I find it interesting how like some forms of cancer, there is such a common disease that cannot be cured. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over three years ago and over time, many things we’ve all come to know him for began to change and he lost many skills he had throughout his entire life, most recently the ability to play shuffleboard and the ability to drive. Being that I’ve seen this disease first hand it really pushed me to want to learn more about and find out new things that I hadn’t known before.
- New York Times. 10/29/2019, Vol. 169 Issue 58495, pB11-B11. 1/2p.
- The Age (Melbourne, Australia). Nov 26, 2019, 12.; Fairfax Media Publications Pty Limited Language: English, Database: Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints
- SPAN, PAULA. New York Times. 11/13/2018, Vol. 168 Issue 58145, pD6-D6. 1/2p. , Database: MasterFILE Premier