Free Essay About Dementia
Dementia does not refer to any specific disease. It is a term used for describing a range of symptoms that are indicative of problems with primarily two brain functions, decline in memory and impaired judgment or cognitive malfunction severe enough to hamper the performance of a person's daily activity. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% dementia cases ("Dementia" 2014). The second most common type of dementia is vascular dementia, which happens after a stroke (Brodaty 2009). However, there are several other conditions conducive to dementia, including vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems. This paper would discuss the causes of dementia and its effect on the patients’ family members.
When the brain cells get damaged due to some reason, it leads to dementia. This damage may occur in several parts of the brain, impairing the function of the brain cells to transmit signals or communicate with each other. The brain has many different compartments, each of which executes distinct functions, such as movement, judgment, memory, and calculation ("Causes of dementia" 2014). When the nerve cells of a particular compartment of the brain get damaged, that compartment cannot execute its functions properly. Different types of dementia are caused by damages occurred to the particular brain cells of some particular compartments of the brain. For instance, in Alzheimer's disease, the brain cells of the region called hippocampus, which is the centermost point of memory and learning in the brain, begins to get damaged first, accelerating the memory loss of Alzheimer patients (Brodaty 2009). Vascular dementia, on the other hand, is caused by sudden interruption of the blood supply to the brain due to a stroke, resulting in oxygen deprivation and brain damage. In front-temporal dementia, two areas of the brain, the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe, suffer damage and shrinking ("Causes of dementia" 2014). Some disorders like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington's disease, and even Parkinson's disease also cause dementia. Some less common causes of dementia include depression, side effect from medication, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, traumatic head injury, excessive use of alcohol, and certain brain tumors ("Dementia" 2014).
Dementia affects the family members of the patients psychologically, physically, socially and financially. Since people with dementia require constant care, most of which is provided by the family members, it takes a toll on the caregivers. The family members, who tend to the dementia patients, suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and resentment. A survey conducted in the UK shows that 4 in 10 caregivers of dementia suffer from depression (Brodaty 2009). The constant need to take care of the dementia patients impacts the health of the family members who might be juggling with various other responsibilities of their lives, such as children and job. The stress of looking after the dementia patients makes the caregivers feel irritated and frustrated at times, and sometimes, unable to take the stress any longer, many families send the dementia patients to clinical institutions. Then they suffer from guilt from not having been able to look after the patients at home. Besides, the loss of a near and dear one to dementia affects the family members psychologically (Brodaty 2009). The financial hardships and the social isolation for having to take care of patients with dementia also cause turmoil in the lives of the family members.
In conclusion, dementia is a term used for describing an array of symptoms associated with memory loss, impaired judgment and speech. Dementia happens when the nerve cells of the brain get damaged due to some reason. Since different parts of the brain perform different functions, different types of dementia are caused by damages that take place in particular parts of the brain. Dementia makes it very hard for the family members to continue taking care of the patients because of the physical and mental stress, financial hardships and social isolation involved in caregiving.
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