Anti aging guide

Dementia and Old Age



Why dementia is incurable and very common in old age?

Dementia is a global impairment of the personality, memory, and intellect without any alteration of conscious level. The commonest form is Alzheimer’s disease but another common variety is due to a succession of minor strokes and this is likely to occur in people with a high risk profile for arterial disease from factors such as smoking or poorly controlled hypertension. These two conditions are common in old age and therefore commonly coexist. Other forms of dementia are seen in Parkinson’s disease and some other less common neurological conditions, and also in association with alcohol misuse, certain metabolic disorders (vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism), late syphilis, and AIDS.

Alzheimer’s disease is, justifiably, regarded with greater dread than any other disease, for ‘to the aging, dementia is synonymous with loss of dignity’. It is also incurable, progressive, and very common. The figures usually quoted for the prevalence of significant dementia are 2 per cent of people aged between 65 and 75 rising to 20 per cent over the age of 80.

The condition is eventually totally destructive of the victim as a person, but the onset is insidious and initially impossible to distinguish from the ‘benign senescent forgetfulness’ to which everyone becomes prone. The progress is slow but relentless, starting with impairment of abstract thought and learning ability, loss of initiative, concentration, interest and business ability, proceeding to failure of memory—initially short-term, later long-term. Aimlessness, dis inhibition, and deterioration of personal habits follow, and restlessness, wandering, and disorientation are very trying for the family of the sufferer. A vegetative state may mark the final phase, and the whole course of the disease may take up to ten years. Sadly, all the doctor can offer is a diagnosis and whatever support he or she can muster.

Acute confusion
It has been emphasized that the confusion and disorientation of dementia is of insidious onset and slow progression. It is not uncommon for old people to develop a much more acute variety of confusions state, typically of abrupt onset in a previously totally sane person. This is the acute confusions state or delirium, and is due to some organic physical illness until proved otherwise. The causes are numerous and range from acute physical illness such as pneumonia or septicemia to poisoning by various drugs in widespread medical use to brain conditions such as non-paralytic stroke. If the cause is identifiable and treatable, restoration to complete competence is a reasonable expectation, though unfortunately not invariably realized.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - April 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm