Is Dementia A Disability?

Why is dementia a disability?

Dementia is most certainly a disability no matter how you examine it. Over the course of time it leads to the loss of mental faculties and memory. Patients do not generally see a reversal of dementia symptoms and they will often have to change the way they live their lives. With that understanding in mind it is important for patients to understand how to cope with their disorder in order to make the best of their lives while they can. As medicine advances, improved treatments will increase the quality of life for patients and will allow them to live fuller lives. Until then, dementia is absolutely a disability regardless of how anyone looks at it.

The definition of dementia

Dementia is a disease characterized by a gradual decline in the ability to think and remember that eventually prevents a person from being able to carry out important functions for living. It is most commonly found in the elderly, but it can affect anyone no matter their age. The effects of dementia can become so severe that some people with the disease are in fact disabled and must seek help to live on a daily basis.

Misconceptions about dementia

As a widely known disease, dementia is commonly misunderstood by many people as something that it is not. Dementia is often seen as simply being another part of growing older, but this myth ignores that many people make it to old age without any symptoms of dementia. Others believe dementia is simply a mental illness in the same sense that depression or schizophrenia is. The truth is that dementia is in fact an organic disorder generally associated with physical processes rather than psychological causes. Although many sufferers of dementia display symptoms of delusion and hallucinations, this is not a psychological disorder.

What harm can dementia do?

Dementia has very noticeable effects on cognition and the ability to remember. This can make performance at work and school difficult for dementia patients. The damage done to the brain can slowly lead to other symptoms as the brain loses the ability to perform certain important functions. For example, if dementia damages the temporal lobe, a region of the brain associated with spatial reasoning, a patient may lose the ability to tell directions or to solve jigsaw puzzles. The effects appear gradually and this slow speed can mislead patients into believing they are in fact healthy. Prompt treatment may improve outcomes overall.

Forms of dementia

Dementia can come in a number of forms. Alzheimer's disease is one of the most well known examples. Typically, a patient with Alzheimer's disease will have difficulty remembering and difficulty in handling important daily tasks. While Alzheimer's disease is a well known, concussion induced brain lesions often cause dementia as well. Athletes and crash victims are known to develop symptoms typical of dementia. Preventing cognitive decline in athletes has led to controversy in professional sports. Some believe there is no need to address concussions, but others believe we can't allow them to affect patients anymore.

Treatment for dementia

Many of the problems associated with dementia are caused by a lack of acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is needed in order to store memories and perform mentally challenging tasks. Doctors may prescribe acetylcholine supplements to patients or they may give patients acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to prevent the body from breaking down acetylcholine. This can help to reduce the severity of the symptoms of dementia, but it usually does not cure or lead to self mitigation of the disease. The medications prescribed are usually combined with psychological therapy to help patients deal with the effects of the disease in order to help them live fuller lives.

Living with the effects of dementia

Dementia is best understood as a disease of the entire body. Researchers have discovered that dementia is strongly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases. Patients with dementia are often advised to do what they can to fight these diseases in order to improve their outcomes. Dementia ultimately leads to the loss of important functions, so it's generally important that patients suffering from the disease understand how to come to terms with the losses they will eventually experience.