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Joshua Ang 10/12/10 Period: 7/8

Dementia is a very serious disease that affects the brain both intellectually and socially. This presentation will properly define what dementia is, its symptoms’, predisposing factors, and any available treatment. It will also mention the prognosis and future complications that may arise if there was a history of dementia. Certain causes relate to certain drugs that may be taken or under the influence of anesthesia. I will also mention certain support areas that can administer aide to those with dementia so that people with this disease can find the proper help. If you or someone you know has dementia, this presentation will properly inform you of the basics that one needs to know if dementia arises.

Dementia is a term that describes a group of symptoms affecting the brain. It affects the brain so severely that it interferes with our daily functions. It is caused by conditions or changes in the brain. There are different types of dementia depending on the cause. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Memory loss often occurs in the presence of dementia; however memory loss does not necessarily mean you have dementia. In order to be sure you have dementia, there are two brain functions that must be affected. The first is the loss of memory and the second is impaired judgment or language. It usually makes a person confused and unable to remember certain things. Not all hope is lost because there is evidence to some treatments that have helped reverse dementia.

Causes of dementia include several different disease processes. Reversible dementia is

usually caused by central nervous system infections, brain trauma or tumors, multi-infarct dementia, chronic cerebrovascular disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Wernicke Syndrome, vitamin deficiency and neurological disorders.

Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of dementia usually occur in stages. Common signs and symptoms of dementia in the early stage include the following. Memory loss, difficulty communicating, inability to learn or remember new information, difficulty planning and organizing, difficulty with coordination and motor functions, personality changes, inability to reason, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations. Common symptoms of intermediate dementia include these: the worsening of symptoms in early dementia, unable to carry out activities of daily living, disrupted sleep, increasing disorientation, inattention, and abnormal moods. Common symptoms of severe dementia include the following. The symptoms in intermediate dementia become worse, there is complete dependence on others for activities of daily living, they cannot move or walk unassisted, there is impairment of other movements, and there is complete loss of long and short term memory.

Who is at risk?
There are several risk factors for dementia. The most common risk factor is age. The risk of contracting dementia increases greatly with age. Also, family history is another risk factor. If your family has a history of dementia, the risk of a person in that same family of getting dementia increases dramatically. A list of the other risk factors is as follows: alcohol use, atherosclerosis, abnormal blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, diabetes, high estrogen levels, and smoking. With alcohol, a small amount will not put you at risk for dementia, however large

consumptions of it will. Atherosclerosis is risk factor because it can block blood flow to the brain, which may lead to stroke. High cholesterol levels may also cause vascular dementia. The factor of depression has not been fully understood but studies show that people who are depressed early in life are more likely to develop dementia later.

If doctors suspect that a patient has dementia, there are numerous ways in which he or she can diagnose this. One is by looking at medical history. If the medical history suggests a big risk for dementia and all the symptoms fit, the doctor may diagnose you with dementia. Another test is a physical examination. It helps rule out other diseases and disorders that may have similar symptoms to dementia and directs the doctor in the general direction. Cognitive and neuropsychological tests can also be used to diagnose for dementia. Certain language, spatial, and learning skills must still be available to a person. If that level is not met, the doctor looks further into detail of the patient and determines whether or not dementia is the cause. Brain scans are another obvious diagnosis of dementia. CT and MRI scans are the most common in revealing whether or not a person has dementia. It helps identify brain size changes, strokes, and other problems that lead to this disorder.

Health Problems Associated with Dementia
The most obvious health problem associated with dementia is decreased learning and the possible development of Alzheimer’s. The brain may degenerate so much beyond treatment that certain memories, brain functions, and actions will not be able to be performed again. With decreased brain function, the rest of the body suffers. This makes the person with dementia more susceptible to other invading diseases. It may ultimately lead to death if not taken care of.

Treatment and Care
Treatment of dementia may help slow or minimize the development of symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitor drugs are Alzheimer's drugs that work by boosting levels of a chemical messenger involved in memory and judgment. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although primarily used as Alzheimer's drugs, they're also used to treat vascular, Parkinson's and Lewy body dementias. Memantine for Alzheimer's disease works by regulating the activity of glutamate, another chemical messenger involved in all brain function, including learning and memory. It’s most common side effect is dizziness. Some research has shown that combining memantine with a cholinesterase inhibitor may have even better results. Although primarily used to treat Alzheimer's disease, it may help improve symptoms in other dementias. Although no standard treatment for dementia exists, some symptoms can be treated. Additional treatments aim to reduce the risk factors for further brain damage. Treatment of the underlying causes of dementia can also slow or sometimes stop its progress. To prevent a stroke, for example, your doctor may prescribe medications to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. Doctors may also prescribe medication to treat conditions such as blood clots, anxiety and insomnia for people with vascular dementia.

Support and Resources
There are many things that one can do to cope with the fact that they or a loved one has

dementia. Taking care of one’s self emotionally is very important. Some things you can do to help yourself cope are as follows: Write in a journal about your feelings and experiences, join a local support group, get some counseling, talk to a member of your church or another person who can help you with your spiritual needs, maintain contact and share your feelings with friends and family, participate in an online community of people who are having similar experiences. Providing care for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Often, the primary caregiver is a spouse or other family member. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry and grief, and social isolation are common. If you're a caregiver for someone with dementia, you can help yourself and your loved one by asking friends or other family members for help when you need it, taking care of your health, learning as much about the disease as you can, asking questions of doctors, social workers and others involved in the care of your loved one. There are also special nursing homes that specialize in taking care of those people with dementia. Seeking help there is also not a bad idea.

I learned that dementia is a very serious condition that can severely affect the functions of the brain. It can lead to the loss of simple functions such as talking or recognizing someone’s face. The knowledge that I have gained as a result of this project has impacted my life in a great way. I now know more about dementia that I did before. I can use this knowledge to inform

others and help loved ones that are experiencing dementia or have questions about it. Now I can be watchful for those with dementia and learn how to aide them. I can help people seek the help and treatment they need if they do in fact have dementia. I can also be more considerate to those with dementia and understand how they must be feeling. With this, I can also learn how to avoid dementia. I know now not to put myself at risk by being an alcoholic or depressed person. I can now live my life and make adjustments accordingly so that I have as little risk as possible for gaining dementia.

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