Unit 33 Understand the Process and Experience of Dementia
Unit Code 301
1. Understand the neurology of Dementia
1.1 Causes of Dementia
Dementia syndrome is the term used for the progressive disease of the brain that leads to the deterioration in the individuals mental functions. It can be as a result of a stroke, Alzeimers and even Parkinsons, some brain tumours, or even an infection to the brain cells. It could also be as a result of a simple fall, a deficiency in their daily diet, or a thyroid deficiency, a much less common known cause is also alchohol abuse.
The brain is made up of millions of cells and it is known, that for various reasons these brain cells die off and cease working. The disease attacks the brain cells, interfering with the brains abilityto communicate with the other brain cells. Depending on which part of the brain has been effected, determines the extent of the dementia that the individual will suffer. This could be ethe waythat they think, or remember certain events in their life, and how they can effectively communicate and live their daily life. Although dementia is not hereditary, the causes can be inherited from family members. There is also no age restriction to the illness, effecting both the young and old, although the elderly do tend to be the most vulnerable. The causes of dementia are still not yet fully understood, or why they effect certain individuals, but research is an ongoing process, usually by examining the brain cells and their make up after the death of the individual, this could in the future lead to a major breakthrough in the diagnosis and understanding of this dreadful and cruel illness.
The most common causes of Dementia are:
Alzeimers Disease: Usually the first signs of Alzeimers in the individual showing memory loss, although this does get confused initially with the natural ageing process. They lose their capacity to remember things or events such as names, places, dates. As the disease becomes worse, this then leads onto further issues such as not having the capabilities to look after themselves in a safe environment, forgetting to get washed or even feed themselves
Vascular Dementia: This caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain, starving the brain of oxygen, which again leads to cells dying, this kind of dementia is usually caused by a stroke or TIAs (mini strokes). Individuals with this kind of dementia can also suffer from partial paralysis or weakness, due to the stroke orTIAs, they may also have speech difficulties, becoming depressed and anxious due to their inability to communicate and live their life as before prior to the incapacity. Dementia with Lewy Bodies: This type of dementia has similar symptons to Alzeimers/Parkinsons. The individual can suffer from movement disorders or depending what part of the brain is effected, their mental capacity is affected. This can sometimes lead to a mis- diagnosis due to similarities to other forms of dementia. Visual hallucinations, seeing things that are not there, can occur in people with DLB and can be distressing. These are often of people or animals, and can become very real to the person suffering. Also hearing things that are not there is a common sympton
1.2 Types of Memory Impairment
Memory refers to the brains ability to store information, The brain is very complex, and enables individuals to retain and recall the information stored. Loss of memory, unable to recognise, or remember names of family or friends, or familiar places, this is generally a sign of the onset of dementia.
The individual can become disorientated, wandering around, looking for something familiar, individuals can also forget how to look after themselves.
Memory loss is a distressing part of dementia, both for the individual and their family and friends.