What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a progressively worsening and largely irreversible clinical syndrome that is characterised by a widespread impairment of mental function. Although many people with dementia retain positive personality traits and personal attributes, as their condition progresses parts of their personality start to disappear, and cognitive capability declines. With increasing loss of function, a patient is slowly robbed of his or her independence. Eventually, placement in a nursing home may be necessary. It is for this reason that Dementia has been referred to as one of the “major challenges of this century”, due to the tremendous amount of pressure it places on local services, families and the individuals themselves!
There are multiple types of dementia, but the two most common that we see in every day practice include Alzheimers Disease (62%) and Vascular Dementia (17%). Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia and is classified by the degenerative changes in the human brain, whereby plaques start to form and reduce a persons ability to function. Vascular Dementia is a the second most common, and is caused by various types of vascular pathology in the brain such as small vessel blockages. Other types of dementia include Lewy Bodies and Fronto-temporal dementia, however it is often difficult to reliably distinguish between these different subtypes of dementia, and for the purpose of this guide, we will discuss dementia as a whole.