What is Dementia?

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A health article about dementia from Mental Health Problemsdealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies




This term is the name given to a group of symptoms that arise from deterioration in the brain.

These symptoms include memory loss, confusion, disorientation and lessening of intellectual functioning and are frightening to people who think they are at risk and can be bewildering for people who are experiencing the onset symptoms of the condition.

Studies are ongoing worldwide that are showing very hopeful signs that breakthroughs in the treatment of early stages of the disorder are very near at hand and there is real hope of significant advances being announced in the next few years..

There are several illnesses that gradually result in dementia the most common is Alzheimer’s Disease, which accounts for 70% of all dementia cases.

Signs & Symptoms of Dementia

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA?

• Forgetting things more often and not remembering them later.

• Forgetting or jumbling words and thus not making sense.

• Disorientation – forgetting where one lives or where one is (even in your own street)

• Wearing odd combinations of clothes - loss of judgement

• Abstract thinking problems –e.g. forgetting all about numbers

• Misplacing things – hiding things or putting them in odd places.

• Mood swings – rapid changes for no apparent reason.

• Change in personality – becoming fearful or depressed, sad or angry.

• Not being able to learn new information.

• Repeating the same story over again or asking the same question over again

Types of Dementia

AIDS DEMENTIA COMPLEX (ADC)

What is it?

It is a type of dementia that can occur at any time during the progression of HIV/AIDS. It is important to get a diagnosis to rule out other possible causes. Head injury, infection or other psychiatric illness may be mistaken for early signs of dementia.

Signs and symptoms of ADC

• Forgetfulness

• Poor concentration

• Apathy

• Problems with tasks which have to follow a series of steps

• Physical unsteadiness

• Disinhibition.

"Alzheimer's Disease" is the term used to describe a dementing disorder marked by certain brain changes, regardless of the age of onset.

Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging - - and it is not something that inevitable happens in later life. Rather, it is one of the dementing disorders, a group of brain diseases that lead to the loss of mental and physical functions.

The disorder, whole cause is unknown, affects a small but significant percentage of older Americans. A very small minority of alzheimer's patients are under 50 years of age. However, most are over 65.

Alzheimer's disease is the exception, rather than the rule, in old age. Only 5 to 6 percent of older people are afflicted by alzheimer's disease or a related dementia - - but this means approximately 3 to 4 million Americans have one of these debilitating disorders.

Research indicates that 1 percent of the population aged 65-75 has severe dementia, increasing to 7 percent of those aged 75-85 and to 25 percent of those 85 or older. As out population ages and the number of alzheimer's patients increases, costs of care will rise as well.

Learn more here: Alzheimer’s disease

What Causes Dementia?

IS THERE A CAUSE? IS THERE A CURE for Dementia?

Dementia can occur as a result of mini strokes or blood clots in the brain – known as Vascular dementia. Other dementias include Pick’s disease, Lewy Body disease and frontal lobe dementia. Dementia can also occur from excessive intake of alcohol over many years, thyroid disease, brain tumours or AIDS.

Some dementias have a cause that can be treated, so it is important to see a doctor regarding the symptoms. For most dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease, however, there is no known cure. Five percent of people over 65 have dementia and almost 50% of those over 85 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s affects more females than males.

Risk Factors:

Larger Abdomen in Midlife Increases Risk of Dementia Overweight Individuals with Large Bellies Double or Triple the Risk of Dementia

People in their 40s with bigger stomachs experience a greater risk for dementia in their 70s, according to a study published in the March 26, 2008, online issue of Neurology(R), the journal published by the American Academy of Neurology.

Earlier studies looked at central obesity (as determined by waist circumference) and body mass index in the elderly and its relationship to dementia risk.

Also, earlier studies revealed that a large midlife abdomen increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

This most recent study, however, is the first time researchers have shown a longitudinal association between midlife belly fat and risk of dementia.

Measuring abdominal obesity in midlife may be a much better indicator of the long term metabolic problems that increase dementia risk, said Rachel Whitmer, Ph.D., the research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, CA, who authored this study.

Measuring abdomen size in older people may not be as good an indicator because as people get older they naturally gain belly size as they lose muscle and bone mass, she explained.

"Considering that 50 percent of adults in this country have abdominal obesity, this is a disturbing finding. It is well known that being overweight in midlife and beyond increases risk factors for disease. However, where one carries the weight -- especially in midlife -- appears to be an important predictor for dementia risk," Whitmer said.

"Autopsies have shown that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease may start in young to middle adulthood, and another study showed that high abdominal fat in elderly adults was tied to greater brain atrophy. These findings imply that the dangerous effects of abdominal obesity on the brain may start long before the signs of dementia appear."

Whitmer pointed out that more research must be completed to understand the various mechanisms that link abdominal obesity in midlife to dementia risk.

The study measured the abdominal density of 6,583 people age 40 to 45 in northern California. Belly fat was determined with a caliper measuring the distance from the back to the upper abdomen, halfway between the top of the pelvis and the bottom of the ribs.

Belly density was highly correlated with the fat tissue (called visceral fat tissue) wrapped around the organs. An average of 36 years later, doctors had diagnosed 16 percent of the participants with dementia.

The study revealed that overweight people with a large belly were 2.3 times more likely to develop dementia than men and women carrying normal weight and belly size.

Obese adults with large bellies had a 3.6 times better chance of developing dementia than those of normal weight and belly size.

Overweight or obese people who didn't have large abdomens still had an 80% increased risk of dementia.

Having a big belly increased the risk of dementia regardless of whether the participants were overweight, obese, or of normal weight overall and regardless of existing health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Individuals more likely to have abdominal obesity included non-whites, smokers, people experiencing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, and those who didn't complete high school.

In conclusion, as is the case with all observational studies, the association of the abdominal obesity and dementia may not be driven solely by abdominal obesity, but may well include a complex set of health-related issues, of which abdominal obesity is just one.


When to seek Medical Advice:

WHERE DO I GO FOR HELP AND SUPPORT?

Make an appointment to see your GP for a complete examination. You may be referred to an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or a specialist for a further examination.

For support, help and referral you can call the Alzheimer's Association National Helpline. Other places that can help are Home and Community Care Programs and Residential Respite Care.

WHAT HAPPENS IN AN ASSESSMENT?

An assessment tells you:

• What the illness is.

• Whether the illness can be reversed or treated.

• The type and extent of the disability.

• The areas in which the person can still function well.

• The changes you can expect in the future.

• Where to get support, assistance and help.

Treatment/Therapy:

SOME RECENT RESEARCH

The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Group (including researchers from The Mental Health Research Institute in Victoria in Australia) are investigating the protein deposits that accumulate in plaques and tangles within the brain of people who are found to have Alzheimer’s Disease.

A particular protein - BA4 - crystallises in an unusual way making it difficult to metabolise so it “builds up” leading to deterioration of the brain. Researchers are hoping to discover why this protein changes it’s behaviour and they are exploring the environmental effects of things such as heavy metal exposure, stress and head injury.

The research is aimed at delaying the onset or eliminating completely the crystallisation of the BA4 protein deposits in the brains of those who would otherwise develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

Self Care strategies for Living with Dementia

CARER SUPPORT

Caring for someone with Dementia can be physically and emotionally exhausting. A person with a gradual dementing illness will eventually require 24-hour care. Services to support carers are available through Aged Care Assessment Teams and the Alzheimer’s Association in all States.

The services offered for carers by the Alzheimer’s Association include nationwide respite care, support groups, information, education and counselling. Contact Alzheimer’s Association via their toll free number from anywhere in Australia.

Caring for someone with a mental illness
For the person experiencing it, being diagnosed with a mental illness is a frightening and confusing period. It can also be a difficult period for that person’s family, relatives and friends. A Carer is someone who helps his/her relative/friend with a mental illness on their journey to recovery.

This information sheet aims to outline some of the issues affecting a carer, and discusses how they can better help their loved one. It also gives suggestions on where to go for further help and assistance.

Learning how mental illness is affecting their relative, and understanding what they are going through, is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a carer’s role. Very often, the behaviour of someone with a mental illness is misunderstood. One such misconception is that ‘ people with a mental illness are lazy and weak, and if they tried hard enough they could ‘snap’ out of it’.
(To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)

Diet change strategies:

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet

It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?

It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.

Further reading through our articles on Dementia health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this Dementia problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about Dementia :

Mental Health Problems
Various factors either contribute to or challenge our ability to look after our "whole person". These factors include our degree of self-discipline, how aware we are of our feelings and thoughts, how well we know ourselves. Factors outside ourselves include the nature of our home and work environment, our financial situation, the current state of our relationships with important people in our lives - friends, partners, families and work colleagues. The quality of our mental health varies depending on our experience and circumstances. Periods of emotional or financial stress can take their toll on mental health. Working your way, mindfully, through life's difficulties can help us to grow in our emotional life and self-esteem, so that we are even better prepared for future challenges.

If the tension gets too much for us to cope with, however, it can cause us to "break down" emotionally or mentally, that is, not be able to carry on our lives in health. At these times, we may need to ask for help or support while we adjust. Many people live with disability, including physical illness or mental illness, and cope in a healthy way. The challenge for all of us is to search out new ways to cope.
(To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)

References:

Mental Health Research Institute Alzheimers Research internet site www.mhri.edu.au Alzheimers Association NSW brochure “Is it Dementia?” 1996 Alzheimers Association NSW brochure “Dementia – Answers to common questions about memory loss and confusion” 1997 Alzheimers Association on the Internet www.alznsw.asn.au Aids Dementia Complex. A Guide To Management & Care At Home 1997

Disclaimer The information provided is to be used for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional care in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Information may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to the Mental Health Association NSW. This, and other fact sheets are available for download from www.mentalhealth.asn.au. This fact sheet was last updated in Autumn, 2002

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