Sociological And Dimensions

Introduction

Dementia is a health condition characterised by a progressive reduction of an individual’s brain functioning abilities (Alzheimer’s Society, 2009). Whereas existing research evidence reveals that it occurs as a result of physical changes in the brain, its symptoms are majorly psychological in nature and are characterised by cognitive changes such as loss of memory, poor concentration, lack of attention, poor visual perception and low problem-solving abilities. Boyd et al (2015) assert that dementia can be understood by evaluating its causes and impacts from sociological, biological and psychological perspectives. Hence, this presentation will examine the sociological, biological and psychological nature of dementia.

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Biological Nature of Dementia

The biological perspectives of dementia highlight its risk factors, causes and how to reduce the risk factors. The biggest risk factor for dementia is age. Research by Carers UK (2014) and Carers Trust and Men’s Health Forum (2014) has found that persons of age 65 and above are at the highest risk of dementia. Similarly, Bamford et al (2014) assert that heredity is also a major risk factor for dementia, thus family history becomes a major factor considered by physicians when diagnosing dementia. However, reports by Boyd et al (2015) also suggest that environmental factors such as mild cognitive impairment can cause dementia too.

Being the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegeneration is considered a common cause of dementia (Boots et al, 2015). According to Crisp et al (2013), neurodegeneration occurs when neurons die or break down in a permanent process that causes a progressive deterioration of physical and mental functioning of the victim. The common types of dementia caused by neurodegeneration include Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (Goodwin et al, 2010).

Dementia can also be caused by cardiovascular damage especially through blockage, malformation, and haemorrhage (Hunter & Miller, 2016). According to Pulsford & Thompson (2012), these conditions can be as a result of heart disease, stroke, or atherosclerosis, and occurs in the presence of a poor supply of oxygen in the brain. Other causes of dementia include bacterial, viral or parasitic infections such as Creutzfeld-Jackob disease which affect the brain cells.

Sociological Perspectives of Dementia

The sociological perspectives of dementia deal with the social impacts of dementia on patients and their caregivers. For instance, in a research conducted by research by Carers Trust and Men’s Health Forum (2014), respondents noted that their relationships with their parents changed from adult relationship to child-parent relationship, because they give care to the parents equal to the kind of care they would give to a child.

Dementia also contributes to the social isolation of family caregivers. For instance, Carers UK (2014) observed that the burden of responsibility to care for the dementia patients 24/7 hinders the caregivers from participating in their social lives. It means that carers sacrifice their social lives to be with and provide care for dementia patients (Alzheimer’s Society, 2009).

Psychological Perspectives on Dementia

This perspective is majorly concerned with the psychological impacts of dementia on people with dementia and their need for psychological support. For instance, Carers UK (2014) points out that dementia victims living in care homes become distressed and engage in weird behaviour as a response to the distress. Moreover, Bamford et al (2014) assert that dementia patients can also respond to unmet needs through distressing behaviours such as violence and aggressiveness.

The environmental changes and problems of transitioning from one’s private home to care homes require effective psychological support for the victims and their family members so that they can experience an easier adjustment to the challenging circumstances (Alzheimer’s Society, 2009). According to Pulsford & Thompson (2012), psychological support may be in the form of training and supervision to family members of dementia patients on how to provide person-centred care as opposed to institutional care.

In conclusion, dementia is a health condition that cuts across every aspect of the victim’s life. The condition is biologically caused by age, heredity and certain environmental factors such as mild cognitive impairment. It has various sociological effects such as a change in the family relationship and social isolation, especially on the victim’s carers. On the other hand, some of the psychological impacts of dementia include stress anxiety and aggressiveness. Thus, people with dementia should be able to access physical and mental health services that address their needs.

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References

  • Alzheimer’s Society. (2009). Counting the cost. London, Great Britain: Alzheimer’s Society.
  • Boyd, M. (2008). Psychiatric nursing: Contemporary practice. Philidelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Bamford, S et al. (eds) (2014) New perspectives and approaches to understanding dementia and stigma. International Longevity Centre.
  • Boots LM et al (2015) Qualitative study on needs and wishes of early-stage dementia caregivers: the paradox between needing and accepting help. Int Psychogeriatric. Jan 8:1-10
  • Carers UK (2014) State of Caring Survey 2014. Carers UK
  • Carers Trust and Men’s Health Forum (2014) Husband, Partner, Dad, Son, Carer? Carers Trust
  • Crisp, J., Taylor, C., Douglas, C., & Rebeiro, G. (2013). Fundamentals of nursing. Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier.
  • Goodwin, N., Curry, N., Naylor S, Duldig W. (2010) Managing People with long-term conditions, Ideas that change healthcare, pp.5-96.
  • Hunter, S., & Miller, C. (2016). Miller’s nursing for wellness in older adults. North Ryde, Australia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Pty Ltd

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