Showing posts with label Dementia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dementia. Show all posts

Feb 20, 2015

Alzheimer's and Dementia

Both Alzheimer’s and dementia are associated with a loss of memory, but there is a difference. Alzheimer’s refers to a physical change in the makeup of the brain, which causes dementia as one of its major symptoms. Dementia can be a symptom of other diseases as well.

Dementia is one of the major symptoms of and the final stage in the progression of Alzheimer’s (an age-related disease that is characterized by symptoms other than just memory loss, as well as by a physical change in brain tissue). When a person suffers from the symptom of dementia, it means that they are afflicted by memory loss and an overall decline in their ability to process information. In order to be diagnosed with dementia, a person must demonstrate impaired abilities in two of the following areas: memory, ability to focus, reasoning and judgment, visual perception, and communication.

Dementia is diagnosed when the symptoms get so bad they interfere with a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Forgetfulness and memory loss is a normal part of aging, but dementia is defined as severe instances of those.

Common causes for dementia can include vitamin deficiencies or problems in other parts of the body, such as the thyroid. Some medications can cause dementia as one of their side effects, and the excessive use of alcohol can also lead to dementia. It generally starts out mild and progresses slowly over years. In some cases it can be treated and reversed.

Alzheimer’s can be one of the causes of dementia. It describes a physical condition in which there is a change in the tissue of the brain, including the formation of structures called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. They are blockages in the brain that prevent the transmission of signals. The loss of signals between the brain’s neurons results in dementia, among other symptoms.

In addition to dementia, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s often show other signs of cognitive difficulty. This can include a loss of depth and spatial perception, abnormal sleep patterns, and an inability to visualize and understand abstract concepts, such as numbers. There is often a change in personality, as well, and a person can become angry, restless, or paranoid. Those afflicted with the disease often have trouble following directions or fulfilling requests, and may also lack the motivation to do so. This lack of motivation can extend to all areas of life, from getting up in the morning to interacting with other people.

Alzheimer’s also worsens over time, and three distinct stages have been identified. The first is a stage where there are no symptoms, but the disease it starting to develop in the brain. In the second, symptoms begin to manifest themselves and the person suffers from mild, but not complete cognitive impairment. In the third stage, symptoms progress to full-blown dementia.

Currently, there are no cures or preventative methods for Alzheimer’s, and those who are diagnosed with it will eventually need around-the-clock, complete care. What triggers the development of Alzheimer’s is unknown, although many doctors point to an all-around healthy lifestyle as the best way to keep brain function at healthy levels, regardless of age.
Bottom line, Alzheimer's and other diseases can cause dementia, while dementia can be a symptom of Alzheimer's.

Jul 13, 2012

Nitpicking, Bigwigs, and Perukes

By 1580, syphilis had become the worst epidemic to strike Europe since the Black Death. Without antibiotics, victims developed open sores, nasty rashes, blindness, dementia, and patchy hair loss.

Powdered wigs, called perukes saved the day. Victims hid their baldness, as well as the bloody sores that scored their faces, with wigs made of horse, goat, or human hair and coated with powder scented with lavender or orange, to hide the odor. Wigs were not necessarily stylish, just a shameful necessity.

When Louis XIV was only 17 his hair began thinning. He hired 48 wig makers to save his image. Five years later, the King of England, Louis’ cousin, Charles II, did the same thing when his hair started to gray. Other aristocrats immediately copied the two kings. They sported ostentatious wigs, and the style trickled down to the upper-middle class.

The cost of wigs increased, and perukes became a scheme for flaunting wealth. An everyday wig cost about 25 shillings, a week’s pay for a commoner. The bill for large, elaborate perukes could cost as much as 800 shillings. The word 'bigwig' was coined to describe snobs who could afford big, flowing wigs.

At the same time, head lice were everywhere and nitpicking was a painful and time-consuming chore. Wigs curbed the problem. Lice stopped infesting people’s hair, which had to be shaved for the wig to fit, and moved to the wigs. Delousing a wig was much easier than delousing a head of hair. A wig-maker would simply boil the wig to remove the nits.