1.1 Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of a mental process caused by brain disease or injury. This can be linked with memory loss, split personalities and trouble problem solving. Dementia can be caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's or a series of strokes. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia but not all dementia is due to Alzheimer's. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
1.2 The main areas of the brain that are affected by dementia and can cause difficulties with their functions are:
1) The Frontal Lobe – this is the part of the brain that controls movement, behaviour, personality and the interpretation of what is around us.
2) The Parietal Lobe – this is the part of the brain that controls the language we use, recognition of places, spacial awareness, objects and people.
3) The Occipital Lobe – this is the part of the brain that controls eyesight and our ability to see people, places and objects.
4) The Temporal Lobe – this is the part of the brain that controls our speech, hearing and memory.
1.3 Depression can sometimes be mistaken for dementia as with dementia a person’s behaviour and feeling of well-being could change and cause the person to appear withdrawn and this could be mistaken for depression. However, if the person is depressed then it could be the depression not the dementia causing them ill-being. Delirium for example can be brought on as a result of an illness (infection) and this might be mistaken with dementia because for example the person could become confused and suffer with memory loss which is also symptoms of dementia.
It is very similar for age-related memory impairment, for example if an elderly person becomes forgetful they might think or others might think they have dementia because a lot of people associate dementia with old age and memory loss but younger people can be affected too.
2.1 In the medical model of dementia the main focus is the dementia itself not the person. And it is seen as something that needs to be managed and treated.
2.2 The social model of dementia is the opposite of the medical model as the person is the main focus, Their wishes, needs and feeling are all considered first.
2.3 If dementia was viewed as a disability it would be accepting dementia that dementia is a disability and how it progressively disables the brain and its functions, for example someone might become more forgetful. Thinking of dementia as a disability makes people think about how they can change things around their environment and adapt their ways of working to meet the person’s needs and to let them live their lives how they want to; for example if a person with a dementia is difficult to understand when they are speaking it might be better to communicate with them using signs, sign language, pictures or writing things down.
3.1 The most common causes of dementia are:
Dementia with lewy bodies
3.2 The likely signs and symptoms with these causes are
Alzheimers Disease – thinking and making decisions become harder as the person gets more confused, difficulties remembering, using language to speak and communicate becomes more difficult.
Vascular dementia – Difficulties with speaking and using the right language to communicate, balance and co-ordination can also be effected as well as memory loss.
Dementia with lewy bodies – physical symptoms can include slow movements which this can increase the risk of falls and trips. Mental symptoms can include memory loss, finding it hard to use language and make decisions, hallucinations, double vision and balance can also be effected.
Fronto-tamporal Dementia – finding it hard to communicate with language, difficulties with behaviour and feelings,