1. The topic of my essay is ‘Causes of dementia and its effect on people who contract it’ The working claim of my essay is that there are several causes of dementia of which Alzheimer’s is the most commonly known cause. Dementia disrupts the normal life of the person who contracts it. 2. While searching the library catalog on-line to find possible sources I used the keywords, ‘dementia’, ’causes of dementia’ and effects of dementia’. I was able to locate a number of essays from sources like magazines and academic journals as well as manuals and electronic books.
Two of them are: 1. Defying dementia: understanding and preventing Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Levine, Robert, 1939 – 2. Dementia [electronic resource]: Alzheimer’s and other dementia: the’ at your fingertips guide/ Harry Cayton, Nori Graham, James. 3. In the library databases I used the keywords, ‘dementia’ and ’causes and effects of dementia’ in order to find the possible sources. I was able to locate the following two sources: 1. Cardwell, M. Complete A-Z Psychology Handbook. 3rd ed.
Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003. 2. Messer, D., and Jones, F. eds. Psychology and Social Care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd. , 1999. 4. To find possible sources on the internet: a. I used the search engine: www. google. co. in b. I used the keywords, ’causes of dementia’ and ‘effects of dementia’ for search. c. Of the many sources that I was able to locate one of them is ‘http://www. webmd. com/alzheimers/tc/dementia-cause’ d. This is posted by healthcare professionals. An organization named, WebMD, Inc. is responsible for the information presented in this site. e. It is a commercial site.
Since the information is compiled by healthcare professionals, the organization can be considered credible. f. It is an extremely fair and balanced site. It gives all-round perspective of the topic under discussion. The links are current as the site provides the last date when it was updated; this indicates that it is regular in updates. I could not access earlier information. 5. Other way of gathering sources is to interview the practitioners, caregivers and near and dear ones of people who are suffering from dementia. A survey can also be conducted.
However an interview would give a clearer picture. Next step would be to compile the gathered information to get a clear understanding of the causes of dementia and its effect on people who contract it. Causes of dementia and its effect on the people who contract it Dementia is a disease that is caused by many kinds of disorders like degenerative neurological disorders, inherited disorders, vascular disorders and infectious diseases. Alzheimer’s which is an example of degenerative neurological disorder is one of the most common causes of this disease.
Because of the degree to which both of these diseases are related, people interchangeably use them to describe a condition. They are considered synonyms of the same disease which is not the case. According to Cardwell, dementia is “a disorder that is characterized by a serious decline in mental faculties, particularly in the loss of memory, as well as impairment of at least one other cognitive function. This group of disorders may impair what we know or even who we are. ” (2003, p. 71)
About 1 per cent of 65-74 years old and 10 per cent of 75+ year olds suffer from this disorder. As memory loss is one of the major symptoms of dementia, it becomes difficult to decide whether people of this age group are actually suffering from dementia or not as memory loss is considered a natural sign of ageing in our society. According to Healthcommunities. com, “Alzheimer’s disease causes 50-70 % of all cases of dementia” (2007, para. 2) There is a combination of cognitive and behavioral manifestations in Alzheimer’s which results in dementia.
The core problem is of cognitive impairment, which includes memory deficits and at least one of the following: impairment in executive functioning (e. g. planning, abstract reasoning and organizing), aphasia or language problem, agnosia or problems with recognition and apraxia or motor activity problem. Other major causes of dementia are: Pick’s disease – There is brain atrophy of temporal and frontal lobes of brain in most of the patients suffering from this disease which leads to dementia.
Lewy body dementia – Though this disease is similar to Alzheimer’s in many ways, one major difference is that it progresses much faster than Alzheimer’s. Cortical lewy bodies, which can be described as abnormal brain cells spread all over the brain resulting in signs of dementia. It causes hallucinations and memory loss. Parkinson’s disease – People suffering from this disease have high chances of contracting dementia. This is one of the rigid causes that disrupt the chances of dementia being reversed by treatment. Huntington’s disease – This is a rare inherited disorder.
The person suffering from it has high chances of contracting dementia that cannot be reversed by treatment. Multi infarct disease – This is an example of vascular disorder. In this disease there is significant decline in cognition due to multiple strokes collectively known as infarcts. After Alzheimer’s it is the most common cause of dementia. HIV / AIDS – This is the most common known infectious disease that causes dementia. A patient suffering from AIDS have chances of contracting dementia in the last stages of his illness. The effects of this disease can be stopped by antiretroviral therapy.
Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) – This is yet another infectious disease that proves to be fatal for the sufferer. Patients suffering from it contract central nervous system problems like involuntary jerks of limbs, visual disturbances etc. in conjunction with dementia. Syphilisis – This is a sexually transmitted disease which can lead to dementia in its advanced stages. Fortunately this disease is curable with the help of antibiotics. Chronic drug abuse and excessive alcoholism – Overdose of certain drugs like digitalis, barbiturates, anticholinergics etc. can cause dementia. Similarly vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency that occurs due to alcoholism can also lead to dementia.
Head injuries – Major accidents that lead to head injuries, become one of the causes of dementia. Hereditary reasons – “Some disorders that cause dementia can run in families. Doctors often suspect an inherited cause if someone younger than 50 has symptoms of dementia. ” (WebMD, 2007, para. 9) Depression, anxiety, delusion and hallucinations are considered major psychological syndromes that affect the people suffering from this disease.
People who have dementia suffer from a common feeling of depression. Some or the other form of depression is developed in up to 87% of patients. Symptoms such as tearfulness or crying episodes, feelings of sadness and neurovegetation signs, inability to sleep, lack of appetite, poor energy, and thoughts of death, irritability etc. can be associated to depression. One can experience depression in the early or mild phase of his or her sickness. Delusions or false fixed beliefs are found in about 50% of demented patients.
Examples of such delusions are beliefs that friends and relatives are conspiring to cause trouble, that a relative is stealing, or that a spouse is just an impostor or is having an affair with a neighbor. Many demented patients may experience hallucinations too. Maximum hallucinations are visual in character for instance seeing people in the bedroom or top of the TV set, seeing an animal or insect in the living room or strangers inside the house. Hearing footsteps or knocking on the door or sound of people singing church hymns can be experiences of occasional auditory hallucinations.
Problems like agitation, verbal outbursts, repetitive behavior, wandering, aggression and violence can be regarded as major behavioral syndromes associated with dementia. Inability to sit still, restlessness and packing back and forth can be manifested as agitation. Daylong screaming or occasional yelling at someone can be considered as verbal outbursts. Closing and opening a closet or a purse or a drawer can be manifested as repetitive behavior. It is very common to ask questions repetitively for example, about a relative’s visit.
A person may start wandering at the advance stages of his sickness. Some patients wander away from the house if doors are kept unlocked. Therefore safety level becomes an issue of importance. Similarly, aggression may occur too. Some of the complaints include hitting the caregiver or throwing things. There may even be rare cases of destruction of things. For example, a gentleman broke the window by smashing a chair and hit the wall with a cane. If recognized and addressed early, though difficult to deal with, most of these behavioral consequences of dementia can be treated.
To help the sufferer get rid of the effects of this disease it is advisable to take him to the doctor for diagnosis. Until and unless one knows what is causing it, any steps cannot be taken to reduce its effects on the people who contract it.
Cardwell, M. Complete A-Z Psychology Handbook. 3rd ed. Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003. Healthcommunities. com 2007. 25th September 2008 <http://www. neurologychannel. com/dementia/causes. shtml> WebMD, Inc. 2007. 25th September 2008 <http://www. webmd. com/alzheimers/tc/dementia-cause>