Dementia Essay

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Dementia is defined by the World Health Organization as a syndrome due to damage of the brain cells that most often chronic and progressive in nature. Some of the cortical functions that become impaired include memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgment. Other manifestations that may accompany this disease are deterioration in emotional control, social behavior or motivation (Ouldred & Bryant, 2009) Dementia is not a normal part of aging, however it occurs most frequently in the older population. Fifteen percent of Americans over the age of sixty-five have dementia, and as the average life span continues to increase, so will the number of those affected by dementia (Fredman, James, Johnson, Scholz, & Weuve, 2012). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the pathophysiology, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options for different types of dementia. Literature Review Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans (Lewis, Dirkenson, Heitkemper, Bucher, & Camera, 2011). This disease is characterized by abnormal amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that develop within the brain. This causes brain cells to die and leads to a reduction of chemicals in the brain, specifically acetylcholine (Ouldred & Bryant, 2009). Risk factors for this disease include age, genetics (ApoE variation), diabetes mellitus, smoking, and depression. Alzheimer’s has also been associated with lower socioeconomic status and education level, and poor access to health care. Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men because women tend to have a longer life span (Lewis et al., 2011). Those with dementia diff... ... middle of paper ... ...vels decrease, the brain cannot create enough energy to work properly. This is a chronic disorder accompanied by severe memory impairment, while other thinking and social skills may remain intact (“Types of Dementia” n.d.). Conclusion As our aging population increases, so will the number of people who develop dementia. This condition is distressing for everyone involved, including the patient, family, and caregiver. As research continues, there is hope for a better quality of life for those affected. It is important to increase awareness, encourage prevention, and to be aware of the early signs and symptoms. Each case of dementia presents itself differently, so it is important to know there are different types of dementia along with slightly different signs and symptoms. The sooner dementia can be recognized and intervened, the greater the outcome for the patient.

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