“With the population ageing, prevalence of dementia will increase; the higher the number of elderly people, the higher the number of people with dementia,” says Dr Ng Li Ling, Vice President of Alzheimer’s Disease Association (Singapore) and geriatric psychiatrist. The Alzheimer’s Society describes dementia as “a set of symptoms which include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning”. There are many types of dementia. The two most common, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Scientists do not yet understand the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. They think that abnormal protein structures, called “plague and tangles”, are responsible for nerve cell death.
Vascular dementia occurs when blood flow to the brain is diminished, starving cells of oxygen and nutrients. It is usually caused by a major stroke or a series of small strokes. For this reason, vascular dementia is deemed to be the most preventable because it is closely linked to the heart and blood vessels.
The Alzheimer’s Association publishes a list of ten signs indicative of dementia:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with communication
7. Misplacing things
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
CAN DEMENTIA BE PREVENTED?
There is some evidence that dementia risk, particularly for vascular dementia, can be lowered with regular physical activity. “Keep physically, mentally, and socially stimulated,” advises Dr Ng Li Ling from Singapore’s Alzheimer’s Disease Association.
CAN IT BE TREATED?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia, but the symptoms can be managed. A doctor will be able to prescribe medications that may delay memory loss and drug treatments for sleep problems and mood fluctuations.
Methods of caring varies from one individual to another as dementia affects different people differently; Some might exhibit aggression whereas another may not. Various approaches, such as SPECALCARE© and person-centred care, recommend:
- Not expecting the person to remember
- Trying to look through the eyes of a person with dementia
- Not contradicting the perceived reality of a person with dementia
- Creating daily routines
- Encouraging social contact
- Maintaining the person’s confidence through verbal affirmation
“Good dementia care focuses on the person. Good dementia care means valuing a person for who he is, understanding that this person is a unique individual – with his unique life history and personality – and not the same as everyone else with dementia. It means seeing reality through the person’s perspective,” says Dr Philip Yap, a consultant geriatrician.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Post A Comment