Living Longer, Often with Dementia

By McFadden, Susan H.; McFadden, John T. | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Living Longer, Often with Dementia


McFadden, Susan H., McFadden, John T., Phi Kappa Phi Forum


Life expectancy has nearly doubled since the beginning of the 20th century In America, the average life expectancy is now about 78 years. (1) Demographers predict that most babies born after 2000 in relatively wealthy countries like the U.S. will celebrate their 100th birthday in the 22nd century. (2) Although the quest to find "fountain of youth" genes has been unsuccessful, senescence has been delayed because better medical care, diet, living conditions, and education have shifted the balance between damage to and repair of the body. This is good news.

The bad news is that biomedical science has not yet found a way to repair the damage to the brain caused by various forms of dementia. This means that even though physical senescence and death occur later, the number of people diagnosed with some form of dementia is increasing as more people live longer.

Currently, the most significant risk factor for dementia is old age, and by 2030, more than 19 percent of Americans will be 65 and older. (3) Of the approximately 78 million American baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), about 14 million will develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) and/or some other form of dementia. (4) If they live to age 85 and older, 45 percent can expect to be living with dementia. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5.4 million Americans have AD now and up to 16 million will by 2050. (5) Researchers at Duke University calculated that among Americans age 71 and older, 13.9 percent have some form of dementia, with AD accounting for the majority of these cases. (6) In addition to persons with diagnosable dementia, about 22 percent of those age 71 and older have mild cognitive impairment that is noticeable to themselves or to others but does not interfere with their daily activities. (7)

Current annual costs of direct care for those with AD or other dementia total about $200 billion in the U.S. Family members and friends also provide unpaid care valued at $210.5 billion each year. (8) The rising number of persons living with dementia extends beyond America and has become such a global phenomenon that last year, the World Health Organization named it as a social and public health priority. (9)

Aspects of dementia

Dementia generally means progressive loss of cognitive functions that diminish memory, language, decision-making, abstract thought, and performance of familiar tasks. Dementia can also alter personality and produce disorientation about time and place. AD is the most common form of dementia. People with AD struggle to recall recent events; one way of describing this is to say their memory loses its "stickiness." Often, this problem leads them to ask the same questions repeatedly. (10) Over time, the pathological changes in the brain that trigger these cognitive problems accumulate, become more severe, and ultimately lead to death.

Some of the many different types of dementia result from reversible conditions like depression, hormonal problems, medications, nutritional deficiencies, tumors, infections, and alcohol and drug abuse. (11) Medical intervention can sometimes reverse the course of cognitive decline for these conditions. The most common irreversible dementias are AD, vascular brain injury usually caused by cerebral microinfarcts "mini-strokes", and Lewy body dementia, which produces visual hallucinations, deficits in attention and concentration, and Parkinsonian symptoms. (12-13) Although most people receive one dementia diagnosis, research increasingly shows that individuals may have more than one type, especially as they gel older. (14)

The German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer identified AD in 1906. His autopsy studies revealed plaques between the nerve cells of the brains of afflicted persons and tangled material inside the nerve cells. Scientists later discovered that the plaques are made up of the protein amyloid beta (AB) and the tangles result from changes in the tau protein that produce a breakdown of the microtubules that provide structure to nerve cells and transport proteins and other substances. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Living Longer, Often with Dementia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.