Dementia

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Date: Jan. 18, 2017
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Video file
Duration: 00:05:01
Length: 702 words

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Dementia is caused by permanent damage to nerve cells in the brain, which can lead to symptoms of significant memory loss and cognitive impairments.
Gale/Cengage Learning

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As we get older, our bodies don't work quite the same way they once did. Physically, we begin to lose our strength and stamina, and our mental abilities can change as well. Past age 65, it's normal to forget where we set our keys or the name of a popular TV show. Unfortunately, significant memory loss, combined with other cognitive problems, may signal a more severe condition called dementia. Dementia is what our parents or grandparents called "senility." Nerve cells in a once healthy brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells and die. In addition to memory loss, dementia sufferers may experience: difficulty with thinking, problem-solving, language, motivation or social interaction, emotional problems, even delusions or hallucinations. There are many possible causes of dementia, including brain disease and stroke. The most common types of dementia are: Alzheimer's dementia, which makes up 70 percent of all dementia cases. This is a horrible disease, where people can lose their ability to perform even basic functions like walking and swallowing. Former President Ronald Reagan and civil rights activist Rosa Parks both suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, accounting for about 15 percent of all cases. It is caused by poor circulation to the brain- often as the result of a stroke. Other common types of dementia include Frontal Temporal, Huntington's and Lewy Body- the kind of dementia that comic actor Robin Williams had. Up to 80 percent of all patients with Parkinson's disease develop Parkinson's disease dementia, which doctors think might be linked to Lewy Body dementia. Famous boxer Muhammad Ali suffered from this disease. History shows that the earliest known medical journals include references to dementia symptoms. The term "demence" was coined more than 200 years ago by a French doctor to describe a patient who had- in a few short years- lost her memory, speech, ability to walk and use everyday objects like cooking utensils. So if dementia has been around so long, why only now does it seem so prevalent? Simple answer: People are living longer. But dementia can also be diagnosed in people as young as 30. This "early-onset" dementia is much less common and often thought to be hereditary. According to the World Health Organization, 47.5 million people suffer with dementia. Every year, there are 7.7 million new cases around the world. A recent survey by the RAND Corporation showed that nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population age 71 or older has dementia. By 2040, that number is expected to double, as will the cost of dementia care, which is now more than $200 billion a year. In the U.S., dementia is among the top 10 leading causes of death, and while deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are all on the decline, Alzheimer's disease is now the sixth leading cause of death and rising. There are lifestyle measures people can take to decrease their risk of developing dementia or at least slow its onset, such as: Staying physically active - getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Remaining socially engaged. Challenging their minds by learning something new or otherwise stimulating their brains through games, reading, or memorization. Limiting alcohol use. Not smoking. Eating healthy foods, like lots of fruits and vegetables. Managing stress, Getting enough good quality sleep, Maintaining a healthy weight, and: Managing diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It is also important to protect your head since it's been found that head injuries at any point in life can increase the risk of developing dementia in later years. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the National Alzheimer's Project Act to: Accelerate the development of treatments for Alzheimer's disease. Improve early diagnosis, and: Work with international organizations to fight the disease globally Dementia is difficult for patients but it's also difficult for caregivers who often sacrifice their own needs and well-being to provide care for a loved one. What is the government's obligation in finding a cure for this condition? Is there enough being done to address the global dementia crisis? What are the emotional and financial costs of caregiving for dementia patients?

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Gale Document Number: GALE|MJMYRU150564113