So just what is dementia? Dementia is a term it describes serious deterioration in mental functions, such as memory, language, orientation and judgement.
Alzheimer’s disease is just one cause of dementia, but several other diseases can cause it also. We don’t yet fully understand the causes of Alzheimer’s it depends very much on age and genetics.
Regular exercise using both physical and mental are key to preventing the onset of Alzheimers, this along with a well balanced diet.
The loss of connections between brain cells and is thought to be key to the devastating effects and symptoms of the disease.
So just what are the symptoms? Well, you may see problems with memory certainly, in particular short term memory. Your judgement will be poor too or at least decreased. Normal jobs and everyday abilities will be difficult to carry out, you may become disorientated in space and may not know what time of the day it is, abstract thoughts are suppressed, your mood will change as result of fear that something may well be wrong, your personality is compromised and there is a suppression of your initiative behaviour.
Poor sleep or insomnia and eventually depression will also set in. It can be around an average of eight years following diagnosis before death although it varies from person to person; some actually live up to 20 years following diagnosis.
Diagnosis however is not diagnostic and experts will measure over time the behavioural patterns of patients which lead them to diagnose Alzheimer’s or dementia. To get an accurate assessment doctors need to perform an autopsy so only after death can an accurate diagnosis occur.
So, is there any treatment available. Well, yes! psychological methods, art therapy, listening to music, playing with toys, brain games, chess etc. There are drugs used to help with the treatment (though not the cure). They include Aricept, Reminyl, Exelon, Exiba and some neuroleptics.
The Alzheimer’s Society helpline is 0845 300 0336 in the UK and more information is also available free from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust on 01223 843899.