The Decline in a Mood and a Mind

“I’m not hungry.” she utters. Little does she realize, she’s not eaten in three days. Her face looks inquisitive but her eyes seem blank. Dementia is slowly settling in.

Dementia is a progressive neurological disease denoted by significant cognitive decline (2015). It is characterized by impairment of memory, communicative language, reasoning, and judgement. The hippocampus is one of the first areas to be affected, and this is why memory issues are key characteristics of the disease (2015). Issues such as depression, thyroid issues, alcoholism, or vitamin deficiencies exacerbate the disease.

She had lost her dog, her son, and her house within 3 years. It was a devastating loss and a significant change in her reality. We had all believed she was as fit and mentally stable as can be. There were no abrupt changes in personality, no issues with memory, and certainly no decline in physical capabilities. With time, It seemed that the more she worried over her losses, the more she forgot and the more she withdrew herself.

After a couple of MRI’s, memory test, and family histories, it was determined that she has dementia. None of the family was quite aware of what that meant, nor were we aware of what the implications were. What would happen to her in the future? What would change about her? How would we take care of her? We were reassured on how to keep her in good shape and good standing. As it turns out, “Use it or lose it” means something in cognitive neuroloscience. In order to keep her brain functioning we were advised to engage her in activites. The more cognitively challenging, the better we were told.

Ever since her diagnosis, we have been fighting a battle with keeping her engaged. Crossword puzzles and word searches no longer hold her interest. We continue to go on daily walks and ask her questions to keep her recall. So far, those have been our only resources. Luckily, she’s drinking ensure and taking vitamins. Any opportunity that I can, I attempt to improve her mood and restore a bit of familiar happiness.

It is very underestimated just how affective depression is in reducing our mental states. Cognitive decline can induce or exacerbate depression, but it can also work in the reverse order. Professor of Neuropsychology at Rush University, Dr. Robert Wilson states that these subtle changes in behavior can actually be early predictive symptoms of the disease (Bowers, 2014). It is imperative to treat depression to prevent the development or progression of cognitive decline in senior citizens. Doing so can implicate an improvement in the prognosis of the disease.

 

 

Bowers, Elizabeth. (2014, October). Depression as a Risk Factor for Dementia. Everyday Health, retrieved from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/depression-risk-factor-dementia/

(2015). What is Dementia? Alzheimers Association, retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp

 

1 thought on “The Decline in a Mood and a Mind

  1. Graciela Rosita Pulido

    Blog Comment 1
    Graciela Pulido
    “The decline in a mood and a mind” Blog Post

    The information presented in this blog is pretty interesting. I was not aware that the hippo-campus is the first place to be affected when a person is showing signs of dementia, but is makes perfect sense. The reason it makes sense because our brains are highly affected as we age. The more and more I think about how age affects our brain and how different diseases can take place specific to how our bodies slowly deteriorate through life, I found some more interesting research. We all know from living life that our bodies change with age, but do we really know how drastically? Also another good thing to remember is that everyone is different so age on the body affects everyone differently. I located a journal article that supports your material. The journal article written by Peters (2006) it is explained that “the most widely seen cognitive change associated with aging is that of memory.” This is incredible information for us as we grow older because we will see that, no matter what, our memories will be impacted by the age of our body’s brain tissue. The thought of this information is kind of scary because this process is inevitable since we have not figured out how to stop the aging process yet scientifically. What researchers are finding is ways to reduce or slow down the problems associated with the “age-related diseases.”
    I truly am amazed on the information you presented in your blog gathered from Bowers (2014) how they found that just by using preventative measures against depression in the elderly can actually assist with improvements to the disease of dementia. As stated by Peters (2006), “Biological aging is not tied absolutely to chronological aging and it may be possible to slow biological aging and even reduce the possibility of suffering from age related diseases such as dementia.” This may sound like a breakthrough, but at the same time it is a difficult idea to grasp. There are so many people that intentionally cause more damage to their bodies on a daily basis that I see in the real-world. These damages can be smoking, drinking alcohol or not exercising or eating healthy. These behaviors will possibly lead to adverse effects once these people’s brains as they grow older. As we learn in our textbook Goldstein, B. (2011), the working memory which is ran basically by the “central executive” and converts it to what is an active memory, continues to run the functions located in our brains. It’s almost like the more we think and process information, then the more we are exercising this “working memory” to keep the processes going. As I realize that I am exercising my working memory as I type this response, it thrills me to know that I am one step closer to my path of success by making sure my mind continues to stay activated by cognitive processes.

    References
    Peter, R. (2006). Ageing and the Brain. Post Grad Medical Journal Feb; 82(964): 84–88. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2596698/

    Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Wadsworth, Inc.

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