There Is Life with Dementia

Manila Bulletin, August 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

There Is Life with Dementia


Imagine your mother or father, or perhaps your Lola or Lolo having trouble with their bodily functions. They were once the best lawyer or teacher you knew then suddenly, they couldn't even hold a pen or tie their own shoelaces. Some may start dropping things without them knowing. Or worse, they couldn't even remember their children's names and faces, much less their own. Their mental abilities began to decline. They have difficulties tracking their purses, remembering appointments and traveling outside the neighborhood. These are just some of the signs of a person suffering from dementia. Although not a specific disease, dementia is a heartbreaking condition associated with decline in a person's mental ability. The decline is severe enough to reduce the person's ability to function in his everyday life.

Caused by damage to brain cells, dementia is often incorrectly associated with senility. A person who suffers from dementia usually has his core mental functions, such as memory, communications, reasoning, judgment and visual perception significantly impaired. When brain cells are damaged, thinking, behavior and feelings are affected.

Dementia comes in different types based on brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain. Most often, damage happens in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory; hence, memory loss is the earliest symptoms of this disease.

Early detection is still better than cure. Although it has yet to find its cure, when dementia is detected early enough, its progress can be slowed down. There has been a growing interest in early detection because it allows a person with dementia to get the maximum healthcare, provide opportunity to volunteer for trials and studies, and offer enough time to plan for the future not just for the patient but for his family as well.

Doctors, especially neurologists or geropscyhologists, often diagnose dementia based on meticulous medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests and mental analysis, particularly on the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day functions and behaviors.

Modern medical technology is now being used to detect and diagnose brain abnormalities.

Getting accurate diagnosis and early detection can bring a measure of relief although the future doesn't seem so bright.

Because dementia makes a person's day-to-day life difficult, there are technological developments to make his situation easier. Called assistive technology, these can be any device or system that helps an individual to perform tasks that he has great difficulty with while at the same time increases the ease and safety with which the task can be performed. …

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