ALZHEIMER`S DISEASE (DEMENTIA) 9
Alzheimer`s disease is known to be a condition that is characterizedby various symptoms and which causes dementia. The name Alzheimer isafter the person who discovered the disease. The disease causesdamages to the brain hence leading to dementia. Dementia is normallycharacterized by memory loss, language problems, thinking and problemsolving difficulties (Brill, 2005). These problems with the brainemanate from the damages that might have occurred in the brain suchas injury or from a disease such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s disease causes damages to the brain henceinterfering with the functions of the brain. The disease causesprotein build ups in the brains forming tangles hence impairing thefunctionality of the brain. Additionally, the disease may lead to thereduction of chemicals in the brain which aid in the transportationof signals across the various sections of the brain (Brill, 2005).Although there are no known cases of the disease, research hasindicated that there are various risks factors. Dementia emanatesfrom the destruction of brain tissue by the accumulation of proteinsand the reduction of the chemical that transmits signals.
This disease affects people who are 65 years and above. Research hasindicated that the risk of people who are 65 years and above doublesevery five years. However, it is essential to state that there arepeople who are affected by the disease at ages as early as 40 years.Therefore, most of the old people at the age of 65 years and abovestart developing memory loss and difficult in solve simple mentalproblems (Lu & Bludau, 2011). The disease can be cured throughthe addition of the brain chemicals that help in the transmission ofsignals.
The first instance or clue of the Alzheimer’s disease was in 1906after Dr. Alzheimer decided to investigate the death of a woman whosuffered mental illness and died. The doctor examined the brain andfound out that there were abnormal clumps in the brain tissue. It isessential to note that the woman had signs of memory loss, languageproblems and unpredictable behavior. This necessitated the doctor toexamine her brain. This discovery was the origin of the Alzheimer’sdisease (Willett, 2012). The clumps which the doctor name plaques andtangles are considered to be the main feature of the disease whichcauses dementia. Subsequent research and brain examinations found outthat there were disconnections between nerve cells hence impairingwith nerve functions. These two forms of damages to the brain areresponsible for the signs and symptoms of dementia.
Dementia is known to have various symptoms and signs especiallyamongst the old generation. It is essential to note that the damageto the brain especially by the tangles and the plaques isirreversible. Dementia is a progressive condition whose signs andsymptoms develop over an extremely long time. However, the initialsigns of the disease are memory loss such as forgetting details ofrecent conversations or forgetting the names of people, places orobjects (Brill, 2005). These signs progress over the years and theymight become severe to an extent that the patient cannot functionalone. Advanced signs and symptoms of dementia are confusion,problems with language and speech, difficult moving around,aggressiveness, and anxiety.
In the US, it is estimated that approximately 5 million aresuffering from the disease. These are mainly comprised of old peopleat the age of 65 and above. Research has indicated that the affectedpeople live for up to 8 to 10 years after the first signs aredetected. It is, therefore essential for people diagnosed with thecondition to start treatment as early as possible in order to plan onhow to deal with the disease. It is worth noting that there is noknown treatment for dementia across the world. However, there aremeasures which can be taken to enhance the brain functionality of thepatient (Tsuang, 2010). For instance, the reduced chemicals in thebrain that transmit signals may be added to boost the brainfunctionality. Additionally, the home of the patients may beredesigned to enable them maneuver easily within the home and toenable them survive without a caregiver (Willett, 2012). Knowledgeregarding dementia has been increasing over the years as a result ofthe extensive medical researches that have been carried out. Some ofthe knowledge revolves around treatment and ways to increase survivalrates for the patients. Cognitive stimulation therapy is one of thethings that have been devised as being helpful in enhancing thebrain’s functionality.
Importance of knowledge about dementia
Over the years, there have been numerous medical researchesthat have been carried out regarding the causes, signs and treatmentof the disease. Additionally, there has been sufficient knowledgegathered regarding the risk factors of dementia. Although researchersare yet to find any medication to the disease, it is essential tostate that there have been major strides since 1906 when the diseasewas discovered (Lawlor & American Psychiatric Association, 2011).Knowledge on the risk factors such as smoking, alcoholism and lack ofbalanced diet are being used to prevent the condition from occurring(Newport, 2013). It is essential to note that balanced diet isessential in mental health and therefore it is argued that eating abalanced diet reduces the chances of suffering from the disease.
It is also essential to note that the knowledge on the effects thatare inflicted on the brain has been essential in the development oftreatment plans. The knowledge that there is a chemical that reduceswhich transmits signals in the brain has allowed doctors to add thechemical to patients and enhance their brain functionality. There isalso the knowledge on the effects that dementia has on patients suchas confusion, hallucination, language and speech problems andinability to move around familiar places alone. This knowledge isextremely vital when planning for the life of a person dementia(Bennington, 2012). The knowledge allows the doctor or the therapistto call for the allocation of a caregiver to the patient depending onthe severity of the condition. Knowledge on the disease has indeedhelped to alleviate numerous problems related to human development.
Effects of Alzheimer’s disease (dementia) on the individualvictims
This is a disease that can have dire effects on a victimdepending on the level. In the initial stages, dementia may not haveany severe effects on the individual victim apart from periodicalmemory loss. Many people ignore the initial symptoms of memory lossassociating them with old age. However, as the disease progresses,the effects may become severe. For instance, the victim maycompletely loose his or her memory and will hardly remember even themost basic and common aspects (Brill, 2005). This greatly affects thelife of such a person and he or she must depend on caregivers. Thisfalls under the category of cognitive effects. Other effects on thiscategory may be difficult solving simple problems, forgetting pinnumbers, forgetting the way home and confusion. Dementia may alsoaffect the ability of a person to concentrate, as well as difficultin learning new things.
Besides the cognitive effects on an individual suffering fromdementia, there are other effects such as behavioral effects.Research has indicated that people with dementia are normally antisocial and this affects their relationship with other people close tothem such as the family. Additionally, the individual may haveinappropriate and aggressive responses to the people close to him orher. It is essential to note that the aggressiveness can either beverbal or physical. Lastly, individuals suffering from dementia mayhave functional effects. For instance, people suffering from dementiafind it extremely difficult to operate appliances such as electriccookers and washing machines. This implies that it is difficult forthe individuals to keep safe while alone at home (Weiner &Lipton, 2009). Additionally, the individuals are unable to carry outeveryday tasks alone and have extremely difficulties handling money.It is also essential to state that the individuals have problemscommunicating due to the language and speech problems.
Effects of dementia on the family
Family members are highly affected when they have a patientsuffering from dementia. More often than not, the patients are oldand therefore their loss of brain functionality renders themdysfunctional and the family members take up the responsibility ofproviding homecare. This affects the family members greatly they needto stop attending to their activities in order to take of the victim(Mace & Rabins, 2011). The family members caring for the patientmight have feelings of grief and despair. This is mainly as a resultof the fact that the patient has no hope of recovering. The familymembers are grieved just as if the patient was dead. Additionally,the stoppage to other activities also causes them grief.
Research has also indicated that once a family member has beendiagnosed with dementia, conflicts amongst the family members arelikely to arise. One thing that is clear with dementia is that thepatient will not function normally. The family members may developconflicts with regard to who is responsible for providing care to thepatient. To overcome this challenge, it is recommended that thefamily members be meeting regularly in order to organize on theresponsibility of each one of them with regards to taking care of thepatient. Additionally, it is critical to share the responsibilitiesbased on ones powers and responsibilities (Mace & Rabins, 2011).There are some family members who might offer financial support whileother may offer hands on care to the sick member.
It is clear from research that people with dementia are sometimesaggressive and their behaviors are not forthcoming. Family memberswho are taking care of people with dementia might fight some of thesebehaviors depressing and they end up getting stressed. Research hasindicated that the patients even at times become abusive orphysically violent and this depresses the family members.Additionally, dementia is associated with stigma and family membersare affected by this greatly (Mace & Rabins, 2011). Many familiesdo not want to admit that one of their own is suffering from dementiaand this puts pressure on the family members. Research has indicatedthat the medication for dementia such as the addition of brainchemicals is extremely expensive and this puts financial pressure onthe family members.
Effects of dementia on the society
The society also suffers as a result of people having dementia. Inthe UK, there is an annual cost of 17 billion Euros that goes towardsdementia. This implies that the society pays heavily for the disease.Additionally, considering that dementia has no cure, the societysuffers the loss of many people. There are numerous caregivers whoare required to provide care for the victims and the society mustprovide them. This affects the society since some of these caregiverscould be providing care to other people with varying health problems.
It is evident that dementia is a disease that affects people at oldage and it interferes with development at old age. It is clear thatthe symptoms and effects of the disease are dire since patients haveto rely on caregivers throughout. Considering that in US alone thereare approximately 5 million people suffering from the disease, it isclear there needs to be numerous caregivers across the world. Thedisease is also extremely expensive to diagnose and treat in orderreduce the severity. The effects that the disease has on the family,individual patients and the society are immense (Reitz, 2011). It isessential to state that many people ignore the initial mild signssuch as memory loss and associate them to old age. However, these arethe same signs and symptoms that turn out to be signs of dementia. Itis critical to have early diagnosis in order to start treatment andtherapy early in order to improve the quality of life.
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