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Misunderstandings of dementia

Posted December. 15, 2018 08:21,   

Updated December. 15, 2018 08:21


People say the brain part in charge of emotions does not age, which is true. An unkind nurse makes dementia patients feels bad. On the other hand, motherly attention and care can soothe patients’ tantrums. Thus, what matters most for families with dementia patients is to pay sufficient care and love to the ailing family members. Dr. Kim Eo-su, a professor of psychiatry at Yonsei Severance Hospital, helps resolves what we get wrong about dementia.

[1] Absent-mindedness does not develop into dementia

Forgetfulness and dementia alike involve deterioration in memory. However, the former is "short-term memory disorder" from a medical perspective, meaning that the brain does not search or extract data temporarily. It is a curable condition. On the other hand, dementia involves overall serious damage to cognitive functions. As such, a worsening absent-mindedness does not transform into dementia.

[2] Dementia are different from delirium

Delirium involves deteriorating memory and concentration, leading to hallucination, inability to memorize people, times, and locations. It often occurs to patients after serious surgery in the process or recovery or in long-term hospitalization. The condition can develop as an aftereffect of treatment or a side effect of drug use. Ten to 20 percent of patients admitted to general hospitals experience the disease. It gets worse during nighttime than daytime.

[3] Korean-style gambling card game Go-Stop does not prevent dementia

If you often play Korean card game "go-stop," you would be able to enjoy it even after experiencing dementia. However, playing it does not prevent dementia. If you engage in activities involving excessive brain power, the brain is likely to let you do the same even after struck by dementia. For example, the body memories frequent trips from your home to the hospital, making it easier for you to do it. For that reason, it is advised to help patients with initial stage dementia repeat executing necessary actions.

[4] Some dementia cases are curable

It is not true that all types of dementia are incurable. According to causes, some cases can be treated. For instance, some causes - brain diseases such as brain tumor, brain hemorrhage and hydrocephalus, infectious conditions, chronic alcohol-related diseases and metabolic illnesses – can be treated to help alleviate dementia symptoms. It is important to go to hospital to find out causes if you suspect development of dementia.

[5] Follow principles of caring dementia patients

Abrupt environmental changes are not desirable when you have a dementia patient in your family. You should try not to have an argument with patient as he or she becomes emotionally sensitive. Use simple and clear message delivering skills during conversation. Dangerous stuff should be out of the reach of patients. While providing patients with a schedule table to help them work out on a regular basis during daytime, it is necessary to install knobs on the walls of the bathroom and restroom and put a mattress on the floor.

Sang-Hoon Kim corekim@donga.com