Dementia: Genuine and Nominal
As of 2012, 35.6 million people have been diagnosed with dementia, a large portion being the elderly (“Dementia”, n.d.). This population has subsequently been scapegoated, and labeled by society as “crazy”. However, the terms “dementia” and “madness” are typically misused by the human population’s majority. Few have a thorough understanding of their clinical definitions and the symptoms they present. Dementia victims are afflicted with ailments that prevent their brains from functioning properly, a condition which most persons have a shallow understanding of.
As previously stated, not many people truly understand dementia’s nature. People typically apply the term to describe those who come up with ideas that are not within the societal norm. But, on the contrary, it is officially used to describe a number of ailments which are associated with a decline in memory or prevent a person from completing everyday tasks, such as communicating, thinking rationally, focusing, and seeing. At least two of the aforementioned abilities must be heavily impaired before a person can be diagnosed with dementia (“What Is Dementia?”, n.d.).
Dementia is caused when a person’s brain cells are damaged. Several regions exist within the brain, each controlling different functions including those previously mentioned. When cells in a region are damaged, that part of the brain is unable to function properly. For example, when cells in the region tasked with movement are damaged, paralysis may occur. Most changes in the brain that result in dementia are permanent; however some symptoms like irrational thinking and memory loss may be improved once issues such as depression and excessive use of alcohol are addressed (“What Is Dementia?”, n.d.).
Multiple tests are required to diagnose a person with dementia. These tests include physical examinations and studying changes in thinking and behavior, and everyday function. Because each examination is thorough, determining with certainty if a person has dementia is easy. Nevertheless, determining the type of dementia a person has is much more difficult due to overlapping symptoms from different kinds of dementia (“What Is Dementia?”, n.d.).
Other brain diseases and disorders are symptoms of dementia. An example of one of these symptoms would be Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that causes impaired thinking, memory loss, and - on occasion - even death due to the brain losing control over vital physiological functions (Lau & Brodney, 2008).
The main reason why misconceptions exist about dementia’s true nature is most people only associate the condition with irrational thinking and impaired judgment. This could be because comparisons between dementia and madness, another term which is related to psychosis and psychopathy, are often made. Although madness could be considered a symptom...