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Dementia


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Information

Dementia is a term that used to describe a group of brain disorders. These disorders make it harder for the brain to carry out daily tasks. Dementia is characterized by permanent memory loss or the loss of other cognitive skills such as the inability to perform routine tasks—such as losing one’s way in the neighborhood, difficulties in job performance, language problems to name a few. Dementia can be progressive, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or may remain stable, as seen after a stroke or head injury. Dementia may progress very slowly and it is difficult to determine when the problem precisely began. However, the beginning can be dramatic and sudden such as when a patient has a stroke.

Symptoms of Dementia

All dementias share characteristics. Loss of memory and the inability to perform routine tasks are particularly common. Recent memories are lost sooner than older ones, and new memories that happened minutes earlier are difficult to retain. A husband might ask his wife when they are going to visit their children. “Monday night,” she might answer. Just minutes later, he might ask the very same question. However, he probably will have no difficulty identifying photos of the children taken 20 years ago.

Aggressiveness may become more noticeable in the personality of someone with progressing dementia. These people lose the ability to function independently and become increasingly disoriented to time and place. Wandering may become a problem. They become unable to care for themselves and grooming and dressing deteriorate rapidly. They may confuse underwear with outerwear.

There may be changes is the way a person with dementia behaves such as, repeating the same thing over and over or having difficulty naming items. He may lose things or get lost often. A person with dementia may have a hard time using the phone or getting a meal ready or playing a game.

Treatment of Dementia

In most progressive dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure. But there are some medications that enable people to maintain their independence for a longer period of time. Some medications also reduce the heavy burden on the caregiver. Unfortunately, these drugs do not stop the progressive nature of the problem and the disease will continue to progress.

 

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Dementia

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