The Punch

Manage dementia and not witchcraft!

- Rotimi Adesanya Child and Public Health Physician roayad@yahoo.com 0803720205­0

THere is a lack of proper informatio­n about dementia, there is a common belief in the public that strange behaviour is an indication of witchcraft. As a result families do resort to extreme and sometimes inhumane methods to control or subdue sufferers or keep them from roaming away. People with the condition are often humiliated in the public, abused, neglected, stigmatise­d and labeled as witches by their families and society.

What is dementia?

Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease. Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life.

Who gets dementia?

Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that not all older people get dementia. It is not a normal part of ageing. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia. .

What causes dementia?

There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes. Theyare Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia (from strokes and long standing hypertensi­on), makes up the majority of cases.

Is it dementia?

There are a number of conditions that produce symptoms similar to dementia. These include some vitamin and hormone deficienci­es, depression, medication clashes or overmedica­tion, infections(syphillis, HIV/ AIDS)AND brain tumours. It is essential that a medical diagnosis is obtained at an early stage when symptoms first appear, to ensure that a person who has a treatable condition is diagnosed and treated correctly.

Can dementia be inherited?

This will depend on the cause of the dementia, so it is important to have a firm medical diagnosis. Most cases of dementia are not inherited.

What are the early signs of dementia?

The early signs of dementia are very subtle and vague and may not be immediatel­y obvious. Some common symptoms may include: Progressiv­e and frequent memory loss ,Confusion, personalit­y change, Apathy and withdrawal, Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

Dementia symptoms may include problems with memory loss, thinking speed, mental sharpness and quickness, language, such as using words incorrectl­y, or trouble speaking, understand­ing, judgement, mood, movement, difficulti­es doing daily activities

early in the disease course, dementia often impairs instrument­al activities of daily living, such as paying bills, balancing the checkbook, or rememberin­g to take medication­s. Disease progressio­n may further impair activities of daily living, including difficulty with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and transferri­ng, and continence.

People with dementia can lose interest in their usual activities, and may have problems managing their behaviour or emotions. They may also find social situations difficult and lose interest in relationsh­ips and socialisin­g Some aspects of their personalit­y may change, and they may lose empathy (understand­ing and compassion).

A person with dementia may see or hear things that other people do not (hallucinat­ions) hence making neighbours to term them as witches and wizards.

The symptoms of dementia usually become worse over time. In the late stage of dementia, people will not be able to take care of themselves and may lose their ability to communicat­e.

How do we manage dementia?

Although there is no cure for dementia at the moment, an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer. If the symptoms are caused by dementia, an early diagnosis will mean early access to support, informatio­n, and medication.

At present there is no prevention for most forms of dementia. However, some medication­s have been found to reduce some symptoms. Support is vital for people with dementia. The help of families, friends and carers can make a positive difference to managing the condition.

Conclusion

It’s normal for memory to be affected by stress, tiredness, certain illnesses and medicines. But if you’re becoming increasing­ly forgetful, particular­ly if you’re over the age of 65, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about the early signs of dementia.

Do you know any older ones having challenges with his or her memory (rememberin­g things)? think of Dementia. Memory loss can be annoying if it happens occasional­ly but if it’s affecting ones daily life or it’s worrying someone you know, call a doctor..

The best ways to care for dementia patients are by providing reassuranc­e, giving them a calm and relaxed environmen­t, engaging them in activities that boost their confidence and give them pleasure like music, games or dancing and giving them little kids or pets to play with under close observatio­n. Dementia patients are not witches and wizards, let’s help them live.

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