Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

Correlations between Cognitive Decline and the Variables of Age, Gender, and Level of Education in Dementia

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

Correlations between Cognitive Decline and the Variables of Age, Gender, and Level of Education in Dementia

Article excerpt

Definition of dementia

Dementia is a generalized deterioration of the intellect, of the memory and of the personality, without implying a deterioration of the consciousness. According to DSM IV-R (1995), in order to pronounce the diagnosis of dementia, the symptoms have to determine a significant trouble in the social or professional functioning and to represent a decline compared to the ordinary level.

Etymologically, the term dementia comes from the Latin demens, composed by the prefix dis and the noun mens, meaning therefore, deprived of '/without all his minds. For years, dementia was considered only a medical problem, and, until the 18th century, the term had been used to diagnose all the forms of mental trouble, including those characterizing the old age (Ianusevici, V., 2008: 14). Kraepelin has made a distinction between dementia and psychoses caused by other organic factors as the syphilis of central nervous system, and has distinguished several forms of dementia: pre-senile, senile and arteriosclerosis. (Gelder, M. Gath, D. Mayou, R. 1994).

From the etiologic point of view, dementias represent a heterogeneous group of neurological or systemic affections, affecting the central nervous system, but we have to underline that the forms met so far are : dementia of Alzheimer type, vascular dementia, the dementia from a-sinucleinopathies (dementias with Lewy corps and the dementia associated to the Parkinson disease) and mixed forms (for example, the Alzheimer disease associated to a cerebro-vascular disease or an Alzheimer disease associated to dementia with Lewy corps).

The other forms of dementias (other neurodegenerative affections that are associated with dementia, inflammatory/infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, neoplasic diseases) are rare, representing fewer than 10%.

1. Clinical manifestations of dementias

According to DSM IV -R, the main element of dementia is the impairment of the short and long term memory, associated to an impairment of the abstract thinking, of the judgement, as well as other troubles of the superior cortical activity or personality modifications.

2.1. Alzheimer dementia

Although also named the disease of the intelligence, understanding by this that on the foreground of the clinical image there is the impairment of the cognitive functions, there are also some non-cognitive manifestations. This is the reason for which we prefer to present these two groups, one by one.

2.1.1. Cognitive symptoms

- Memory troubles - the difficulty of remembering information previously learned and the impossibility of accumulating new information. The first to be lost are the recent incidents, while the older ones can be preserved, at least in the first stages of the disease;

- speech troubles - the patient cannot find his words, even for simple notions - he names the object by the category which includes it or by periphrases (something to write with, instead of pencil, for example);

- the incapacity of accomplishing various coordinated motor activities - the patient does not know how to dress adequately, how to close the door, how to use the remote control etc.;

- the impossibility of recognizing, identifying and naming usual objects;

- troubles with the daily activities, with the organizing functions, an in-capacity of making decisions;

- problems concerning the abstract thinking, troubles of making calculations, temporal and spatial disorientation, loss of the initiative;

- false recognitions - at the beginning, difficulty in recognizing the familiar physiognomies, followed by erroneous identifications (very frequently the patient confounds her spouse or children with relatives from her distant past);

- confusion between the imaginary plan and the realty, which makes some of the patients talk to the TV set;

- the loss of the permanence of the object, that makes the patient unable to imagine the existence of something that he actually cannot see (Ploton, L. …

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