The causes, process and experience of dementia.
Dementia is a term used to describe symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain conditions or diseases. There are many different types of dementia although there are some that are more common. These I have listed below.
This is a progressive disease and is the most common form of dementia. Brain cells die over a period of time due to a change in the chemistry and structure of the brain. Memory issues are a particular symptom of this dementia.
This is when the blood supply is interrupted to the brain causing brain cells to die. This can happen following a stroke where there is a sudden ...view middle of the document...
One of the most common symptoms of dementia is problems with memory. Certainly in Alzheimer’s there is a steady decline in memory ranging from forgetting where keys are, to what was eaten at lunch, to recognizing their closest relative. Memory declines in reverse order to when it was experienced meaning that initially most will retain their long term memory, remembering their youth, falling in love, having children etc. There may come a time where they seem to be living in the past talking about their husband coming home from work, or picking their daughter up from school. At these times it can be difficult for carers and for the sufferer. Although we would like to think that all memories are pleasant ones there will be times when this is not the case. A lady that was under my care a few years ago had been a fire warden during the war and had had some horrendous experiences. Any time that a disaster was reported on the news it would take her back to that time; she experienced sounds, smells and emotions and would take to her bed and be withdrawn for the rest of the day. The rest of the time she appeared to be blissfully unencumbered with daily worries and sang happily to herself. It can just take that vital cue to ignite a memory certainly if it has strong emotion attached to it.
Those with dementia will find it difficult to retain new information. The part of the brain that processes and stores new information may have been damaged causing the sufferer to be unaware that they have heard this information before. For example a lady I care for was a mental health nurse for many years and now has Alzheimer’s. She will frequently ask what she is to do or when she should start the drug round. Mrs .M is told that this is where she lives, she is not at work and she can relax. Over an afternoon this conversation can recur many times unless some form of distraction is initiated to break the cycle. Also this lady recently became a great grandmother to twins, she met them and held them but the next day denied knowing about them.
As the dementia develops there may be difficulties recognizing close family members, places or things and in some cases even their own reflection. Loved ones may be thought of as strangers, intruding in their home which can cause distress to the person and their family.
What is truth and what is imagined can become confused. A person with dementia may state that they have been somewhere e.g. “I went shopping this morning”when in fact they sat and watched TV. They will even tell you what they saw and bought but obviously are unable to show you.
Issues with memory can cause distress to the person. They feel that they are losing their mind and don’t want to be labeled as “mad”. The constant battle with themselves to try to remember, to prove that they are ok to others, to feel valued for their opinion can all lead to frustration and in some cases lead to challenging behavior. This frustration can also...