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Dementia refers to the progressive incapacitation of an individualdue to diminishing cognitive functions. In this regard, the symptomsassociated with the condition affect social abilities, thinking, andmemory (Prince et al., 2013). The decline in mental capacity isusually sufficient to hinder the performance of daily activities.Vascular dementia typically occurs after a stroke while Lewy bodydementia is a progressive form characterized by proteins in thebrain. However, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type ofdementia as it occurs in 60-80% of all cases (Prince et al., 2013).Vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems can also cause symptomscommonly associated with dementia. In this paper, I will show how aproper understanding of dementia can contribute towards effectivemental health.
Dementia is primarily caused by severe damage to brain cells.Subsequently, cells lose the ability to communicate with one another.Feelings, behavior, and thinking are modified when links betweenbrain cells are broken. Normal functions are hindered depending onthe section of the brain that is affected (Prince et al., 2013).Notably, dementia could compromise movement, judgment, or memory. Forexample, destruction of the hippocampus has a negative impact onmemory.
Persons with dementia typically survive for just 10 years after theonset of physical symptoms. Dementia has a prevalence of 6.4% for allcauses in elderly persons above 65 years of age (Prince et al.,2013). However, it has a higher prevalence in women compared to men.Such outcomes are seen in all forms of dementia. The rates ofprevalence are also doubled after every five-year increase in age. Inthe 65-69 age group, incidence rates of dementia are noted at 2.4 per1000 person-years. Nonetheless, incidence rates become 70.2 per 1000person-years in the age group of persons above 90 years (Prince etal., 2013). Therefore, dementia poses greater risks for persons above65 years of age.
Symptoms of dementia typically include depression, agitation, andapathy (Algar, Woods, & Windle, 2016). Other psychologicalchanges involve anxiety, paranoia, inappropriate behavior, andhallucinations. Cognitive changes include memory loss,disorientation, and confusion (Prince et al., 2013). Persons withdementia may also experience difficulty in communicating, planning,coordination, reasoning, and organizing.
Admittedly, mosttypes of dementia cannot be treated. Nevertheless, some medicationscan be used to treat symptoms and provide temporary relief. Somecommon medications include memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors(Prince et al., 2013). Potential side effects include diarrhea,vomiting, and nausea. Besides, non-drug therapies may help toalleviate painful symptoms.
Individuals can reduce their exposure to dementia by participating inregular physical exercises. The latter practice lowers the risk ofdementia by increasing blood flow to the brain. A healthy, balanceddiet can also help to reduce a person’s exposure to certain typesof dementia. Risk factors for dementia include advanced age and thefemale sex. Genetic risk factors comprise mutations in specific geneswhile vascular risk factors occur due to heart disease, smoking,diabetes mellitus, and hypertension (Prince et al., 2013). Patientswith dementia experience a gradual loss of independence. During mycareer, I would enhance the quality of caregiving to enable patientscope with the symptoms. The increased dependence on primary caregivers occurs since patients require assistance while performingactivities of daily living.
Indeed, a comprehensive understanding of dementia can lead to betteroutcomes with regards to mental health. Patients with dementia canbenefit from improved caregiving designed to alleviate symptoms. Thecondition has a higher prevalence for females above the age of 65years. Therefore, more efforts should be focused on high-riskpopulations.
Algar, K., Woods, R. T., & Windle, G. (2016). Measuring thequality of life and well-being of people with dementia: A review ofobservational measures. Dementia, 15(4), 832-857.
Prince, M., Bryce, R., Albanese, E., Wimo, A., Ribeiro, W., &Ferri, C. P. (2013). The global prevalence of dementia: A systematicreview and metaanalysis. Alzheimer`s & Dementia, 9(1),63-75.