Dementia - research report for P1 and P2.

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P1, P2, Dementia

This information booklet will firstly for my P1 contain the definition of dementia signs and symptoms and the signs and symptoms of other conditions that are mistaken for dementia.  Additionally it will show the way dementia is tested and dementia in younger people. Secondly for my P2, this booklet will contain information on different types of dementia, their common signs and symptoms, and the possible effects of dementia on individuals and their families.


The term 'dementia' describes a set of symptoms which include loss of memory, mood changes, problems with communication and reasoning .These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease but there are several other causes.

Most types of dementia have similar symptoms including

  • Difficulty in communicating- an individual may have problems in making themselves understood for example forgetting to recognise people or objects, having Problems with understanding like what is being said and not being able to act on instructions.


  • Loss of memory – this is often said to be an early sign of dementia− this particularly affects short-term memory, for example forgetting what happened earlier in the day, not being able to recall conversations, being repetitive or forgetting the way home from the shops. Long-term memory is usually still quite good.


A change of personality- people who are finding it hard to function with a progressively limited thinking capacity may overreact to normal everyday situations or tasks or can become abusive or aggressive. Additionally some individuals’ personalities’ change dramatically, people who have never used bad language start using bad language and some people lose all their social inhibitions and behave in ways that they would have been shameful about before the illness. These mood changes can make a person feel, sad, frightened or angry about what is happening to them.

  • Loss of practical skills – once known as easy tasks such as putting clothes on and off  feeding and washing can become very difficult or almost impossible as the dementia progresses.

These changes are due to damaging in the brain and individuals with dementia have no control over them.


The symptoms of dementia will gradually worsen overtime because dementia is progressive However, the speed of progression does depend on the individual and the type of dementia they have, their life style and personality.

People with dementia can have a good quality of life with help, support and quality care.

Dementia can be mistaken for other conditions, this is because the signs and symptoms may be similar but there may be other reasons for these symptom that can be treated. For example

Thyroid gland deficiency and vitamin deficiency may also have effects on the functioning of the brain which can cause confusion but this can be treated.


Depression – life changes such as shock or bereavement may be linked to a period of confusion. This could be because the person may possibly be depressed. A person who is depressed may not look after themselves, they may neglect themselves by not eating, cleaning themselves, not being able to answer questions, seemingly confused. These kinds of symptoms from depression can be reserved with good care as depression is treatable.

Acute confessional state (delirium) - mental confusion and changing levels of consciousness, this can be cause by illness disease, side effects of medication, inflammation, dehydration, constipation and malnutrition.

Some infections for example, urinary and chest infections may interfere with the normal functioning of the brain, this can be resolved by treating the infection resulting in the person feeling normal again.

Drugs and alcohol – high levels of prescribed medication such as sleeping tablets or drugs can cause a person to become confused. Reducing the dosages could help to reduce or eliminate these symptoms.

Mild cognitive impairment – the symptoms of MCI involve late life forgetfulness and this can be caused by many reasons such as slower absorption of key nutrients, declining levels of hormones, reduced blood flow to the brain, lack of exercise, smoking and poor diet.

Head injuries or brain tumours can also affect the brain involving symptoms similar to dementia symptoms.  

The biggest differences between dementia and other conditions is that many of the other conditions are treatable for example, if delirium is treated the symptoms are likely to improve.  There is a difference between someone who has dementia than someone is suffering from depression or stress and that is, the capability to remember. An individual who has dementia will not remember when asked but someone else who sufferers from stress or depression will remember however it can make it very difficult diagnosing someone with dementia that is also depressed delaying the diagnosis and treatment.  

Additionally an individual with MCI are still able to get dressed but may forget things that have happened the week before like watching a film.

Diagnoses of dementia

There are many people who have dementia that will never be diagnosed, there is a hope for change to this by the National Dementia strategy.

 There are several people who would like to know if that had dementia so they can get ready for the future however  there are some people that don’t want to know.

A diagnosis of dementia affects the person and them closest to them. An early diagnosis gives the person and family a chance to prepare and plan for the future, as well as receive any treatment that may be possible. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilling lives.

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A GP will give a full physical examination.  The doctor will ask about the symptoms and other aspects of a persons’ health. The doctor will organise some blood tests and ask about any medications that patients may be on, and other conditions (see pgs. 3, 4) because sometimes other conditions can give off symptoms similar to dementia and these need to be ruled out. Additionally the GP may refer a person to a specialist mental health service to carry out some mental exercises, this is to measure any problems with the memory or the ability to think clearly. 

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