Dementia is a generic term for a variety of clinical disorders, through which brain damage leads to a gradual loss of memory, orientation and cognitive capacities. It is therefore all the more important to take early dispositions as regards the care of people with dementia.
In the case of advanced dementia, a failure of cerebral functions is connected to a loss of feelings, interest and perceptive capabilities. At a later stage, it can also develop into physical impairment and the loss of bodily functions.
As of today, about 50 forms of dementia-related illnesses are known, of which Alzheimer represents approximately 60%. Around 20% of people with dementia suffer from a form of vascular dementia.
Causes: gradual death of neurons
As regards Alzheimer, whole clusters of neurons gradually loose their functional capacities and end up dying. Parallel to this, a deficit in endogenous substances prevents the flow of information between the neurons.
Vascular dementia appears normally through arteriosclerotic alterations or through the obstruction of cerebral blood vessels. This in turn leads to a reduced blood circulation in the brain, which leads gradually to the death of cerebral zones.
Frequency: 70 million people with dementia by 2030
Due to the increasing life expectancy, the number of dementia cases is rapidly expanding. According to the WHO, this number will have doubled by 2030 to reach over 70 million people.
The number of dementia-afflicted people augments rapidly with age. Whereas people under 65 are rarely affected by dementia, about a third of the people aged 90 and more suffer from dementia. The likelihood of suffering from dementia is about the same for men and women. The fact that about 70% of all dementia cases affect women is due to their higher life expectancy.
Treatment and therapy: dementia is incurable
As of today, no cure to dementia is known of. However, two therapeutic approaches offer some relief: one the one hand, a medication treatment can help to postpone the loss of intellectual capacities. On the other hand, drugless treatments such as memory training, painting therapy, sport or games can prevent isolation and help maintain a sense of self-worth.
Severe disability: dementia is the leading cause of physical impairment of the elderly
Worldwide, dementia is one of the leading causes of impairment of elderly people. This illness has huge consequences on the physical, mental, social and economic realities of the affected people and their families and caregivers, and on the society as a whole.