Thursday, November 5, 2009

Causes of Dementia Caregivers, Become Empowered to Provide Better Care by Diane Carbo
in Family (submitted 2009-11-04)

What are the causes of dementia? Just what is dementia? How will caregivers knowledge of this disease help them provide better care? Knowledge is power. This dementia overview will help you, as a caregiver, to understand the various causes of dementia and what you can do to be prepared to provide quality care with confidence. Knowledge will take the mystery out of the condition and allow you to develop a plan for handling behaviors and changes as they present themselves.
There are so many different causes of dementia it is difficult at times to tell them apart. There are a variety of health related conditions that can cause dementia symptoms, especially in aging adults. These causes include a variety of different diseases and infections, head injuries, nutritional deficiencies, medications, drug abuse and strokes.

To understand dementia is to become aware that this disease is the result of a disease or injury. In other words, something causes injury or insult (through a disease process) to the brain first. If the injury or insult to the brain is severe or progressive, the brains ability to properly function is compromised mentally, physically and emotionally.

All dementia's affect the tissue of the brain. All affect different areas of the brain and at different levels of progression. There are times when the underlying cause does not have a permanent affect on the brain. In these cases, such as with nutritional deficits, the symptoms may be reversed.

All dementia's cause a malfunction of a part of the brains tissue. The cortex of the brain is the outer covering of the brain and plays an important role in understanding information and connecting functions of the brain such as language and memory.

When the cortex of the brain is affected, characteristic problems affect memory and the inability to recall words. As the disease progresses, the individual looses that ability to understand what others are saying (receptive aphasia) or to express their needs and wants (aphasia). Dementia's in this category are Alzheimer's, Pick's disease, Binswanger's and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

Some conditions affect the regions below the cortex of the brain. This is known as the sub cortical area of the brain. This area of the brain is responsible for the thought processes and personality areas of the brain. This can cause lack of emotions, cause a person to have false beliefs and irrational thoughts. Memory and language abilities may or may not be affected in this type of dementia. Diseases that cause dementia in this category are Parkinson's, Huntington's, and AIDS dementia complex.

So how does knowing the causes of dementia empower caregivers to provide better care?

Dementia is a progressive decline in the brains ability to feel emotions, remember things, problem solve, plan and organize. Cognitive abilities also include executive functions such as making decisions, judgments and morale reasoning. Over time the individual looses the mental abilities to be able to function independently.

Knowing the causes of dementia, understanding which areas of the brain that will be affected, will allow caregivers to be able to anticipate what to expect as the disease progresses. Some with this disease will have difficulty with language, others will have behavioral and personality changes. These anticipated changes can help a care giver plan, anticipate, investigate and prepare for interventions to provide quality care.

Understanding the disease process and understanding the possible physical, mental, cognitive and personality changes, gives a caregiver the ability to make choices. Knowledge can give caregiver information, so that they know what level of care they will or will not be capable of physically or emotionally able to provide.

Understanding the causes of dementia, acquiring the knowledge of the areas to the brain that will be affected will empower caregivers with the knowledge to provide quality care at every level of the disease.

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