According to McGilton (2004) the chance of exhibiting the symptoms of dementia is something that increases as one grows older. According to Kovach, Kelber, and Simpson (2006), more than 3.5 million Americans who have reached their middle ages suffer from some type of dementia. The most basic indication of dementia is memory loss. Alzheimer’s dementia, if left untreated, progresses slowly over a number of months, or even years. In sufferers of dementia, the symptom of memory loss may even grow worse at night. Once affected by Alzheimer’s dementia, a person’s short-term memory is the first to be severely affected.
The affected person may not be able to remember the names of relatives, friends, and even familiar objects (Roberts and Wolfson 2004). This will result in the loss of his or her ability to be able to make serious plans. This then results in the individual being plagued by fears, and even paranoia. The loss of all long term as well as short-term memory will eventually result in the affected individual coping out of daily normal life, and becoming bedridden.
There are many past cases where Alzheimer’s has been mistaken with delirium, or even mental retardation. It is a recognised fact that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, and subsequently, major depression, could appear to be dealing with a serious intellectual issue. The gradual deterioration of brain facets such as cells, or nerves often results in different behavioral changes. When sufferers are first afflicted by Alzheimer’s, they tend to remove themselves from public settings in order to reduce the chances of them suffering from a loss of memory when in dangerous circumstances. They may keep from actively participating in social engagements, and even exhibit a definite lack of initiative to participate in life as other people do.
Sufferers of Alzheimer’s do this because they are embarrassed about their inability to remember things. They may also fear that others will interpret their lack of memory as a lack of intelligence. As they experience more symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such patients will start to grow more agitated about the general direction of their lives. They may exhibit misconceptions, such as the failure to distinguish real people from those that they see in television programs.
This makes them unable to contain their verbal aggression, because they are constantly being viewed with bewilderment and shock by others who realise that there is something wrong with their intellectual capacity.
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Figure showing the prevalence of different types of Dementia in the U.S. (Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin 2009)
Figure showing the difference between healthy brain cells and brain cells with Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Association 2011).
Figure showing the Symptoms of different types of Dementia (Neef and Walling 2006), viewed May 4, 2014 from <http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0401/p1223.html>.