More must be done to address the growing impact of dementia
Dementia, which is recognized as a syndrome of multiple-domain cognitive impairment and a brain dysfunction caused by impaired brain, causes the ability of memory, understanding, judgment, self-control to undergo sexual degradation and persistent intelligence impairment, thus affecting daily life and social skills. (Quinn, 2014). According to the World Health Organization (2019), there are about 50 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, with the trend of nearly 10 million new patients each year. Moreover, the total number of patients is expected to reach 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050. Whether more measures are needed to deal with the growing impact of dementia has been the subject of debate. This essay will discuss the effects of dementia, proposing that it is necessary to take more measures to deal with the growing problem of dementia. Although dementia seems to be only a common disease for the elderly, its impact is tremendous. The negative effects are mainly reflected in three aspects — dementia causes a serious decline in patients’ quality of life, aggravates the financial burden of patients’ families, and affects the physical and mental health of other family members.
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One of the effects of dementia is reducing patients’ quality of life. Firstly, dementia usually affects the part of a person’s brain that controls language, thus reducing the patient’s ability to communicate with others, so patients cannot clearly and accurately express their specific thoughts. According to the summary of Wick (2016), people with dementia will gradually forget the meaning of words and phrases, and as the disease progresses, they begin to use body movements instead of language to express, such as pointing objects and clapping hands. Secondly, dementia often affects the patient’s concentration and emotional control. They may become more prone to anger and frustration because they cannot recognize what is happening around them clearly. Therefore, they are easily influenced by others’ emotions. Patients no longer have different emotions towards different circumstances as before. Besides, with the aggravation of the illness, their deficiencies in emotional processing and expression become more and more obvious (Rodríguez et al. 2016). Thirdly, the early symptom of dementia is the decline of memory, which makes many patients mistakenly think that this is just a normal aging phenomenon, thus missing the best treatment opportunity, speeding up the development of the disease and reducing the life expectancy of dementia patients. The United States has conducted a study on people with dementia (1300 people). The results show that the life expectancy of people with dementia varies from 1 to 26 years (the time begins when the patient first becomes sick) (Corr, 2015). Dementia causes significant changes in all body functions, including blurring of language, slowness of movement, and confusion of thought. These phenomena have a serious impact on patients’ life, reducing their life happiness, and making their life less colorful. Therefore, people should take measures to control the growing trend of dementia, so that more and more people can live a high-quality life.
One of the most significant effects from dementia is the severe economic burden on families. First of all, with the increasing severity of dementia, its impact is also growing. According to some incomplete investigations, it was concluded that the average annual cost of health care for people with dementia increased from $3150 billion to $4220 billion during the period of 2005 to 2009, an increase of around 34% in just 4 years (Wimo, 2013). In addition, a large part of the financial expenditure of dementia families is the cost of patients’ medicines and expensive drugs cost increase household financial expenses. Sköldunger (2016) did a survey and the result shows that the average number of drugs for dementia patients was 5.4 (a cardinal number, the larger the number, the greater the representation), compared with 3.5 for those without dementia, and the average drug cost in the study population was nearly 4,000 Swedish kronor a year, and costs for dementia patients were about 60 percent higher than the elderly without dementia. In general, most family members of dementia go to work as they need to make money to bear the family expenses, but people with dementia need someone to accompany them to prevent them from being lost or injured, which means they need professional nursing staff, but the cost of hiring caregivers is also very high. According to research, about 80 percent of people with dementia have at least one caregiver in their homes, and half of non-hospitalized patients have more than one caregiver (Castro et al. 2010). Moreover, dementia patients are not able to continue their normal work as the condition worsens. In other words, the reduced income of dementia patients represents the overall economic loss of their families. The cost of dementia patients is divided into direct costs and indirect costs, the loss of patients’ income is one of the factors of indirect costs. The survey shows that among the treatment costs of patients, direct costs account for 40% and indirect costs account for 60% (ibid). It is clear to note that indirect costs also greatly affect the overall economic situation of families with dementia. The capital expenditure of dementia patients is very large, which is reflected in many aspects, including medical expenses and non-medical expenses, which are increasing year by year. To reverse this trend, more measures must be taken to control the development of dementia.
The third point to discuss is that dementia can greatly affect the lives as well as physical and mental health of patients’ family members. Firstly, through interviews with family members of dementia patients, dementia patients have restricted their lives and changed their living conditions and habits. For example, the female star Emma’s mother suffers from dementia. She said that since her mother became demented and became more and more like a child, she often makes strange noises and repeats the same piece for her. Even if sometimes felt depressed, Emma cannot go out because leaving her mother alone at home is dangerous (AlzheimersResearch UK, 2015). Family members of dementia patients will live in single boring environment for a long time and they cannot communicate with patients normally, which seriously affects their emotions. However, the influence of dementia on patients’ families is not only these. As dementia becomes more and more serious, many middle-aged people will suffer from the disease, and their children are still in school, which has a great impact on their children. When parents suffer from dementia, teenagers have the obligation to take care of them. This will put pressure on them to make them unable to concentrate on their studies and parents with dementia are unable to participate in some of the important activities of the children. In a survey, British student Alexandra said that although she had made great achievements in her studies, her mother could no longer share the joy and could not attend her graduation ceremony (Sikes and Hall, 2018). Dementia has a serious impact on the family members of patients, both spouses and children, and the best way to improve this phenomenon is to take some actions to prevent the occurrence of dementia.
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In conclusion, with the increasing severity of dementia, the number of people with dementia is increasing at a high increasing rate, and its impact on people is increasing. This essay demonstrates the effects of dementia in three perspectives — the impact on the quality of life of patients, the increasing financial burden, the physical and mental health of family members. Practical actions should be taken to curb the development of dementia fundamentally, so as to control these adverse effects. For instance, the government should build more public sports venues and equipment for people to exercise, because dementia is a common symptom of reduced executive cognitive function in the brain, and adequate daily physical activity can improve executive function (Guitar, 2018).
- AlzheimersResearch UK, 2015. Actress Phyllida Law talks about caring for her mother. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCM_VqRcpz4&rel=0 [Accessed: 15 December 2015].
- Castro, D.M. et al. 2010. The economic cost of Alzheimer’s disease: Family or public health burden? Dement Neuropsychol 4(4), pp. 262-267. doi: 10.1590/S1980-57642010DN40400003
- Corr, K. 2015. What is the life expectancy for someone with dementia? Available at: https://dementia.livebetterwith.com/blogs/advice/what-is-the-life-expectancy-for-someone-with-dementia [Accessed: 26 June 2015].
- Guitar, N.A. 2018. The effects of physical exercise on executive function in community-dwelling older adults living with Alzheimer’s-type dementia: A systematic review. Ageing Research Reviews 47, pp. 159-167. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2018.07.009
- Quinn, J.F. 2014. Dementia. Chicester : John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- Rodríguez, T.M. et al. 2016. Behavior and Emotion in Dementia. Update on Dementia, Davide Vito Moretti, IntechOpen. doi: 10.5772/64681. Available at: https://www.intechopen.com/books/update-on-dementia/behavior-and-emotion-in-dementia#B6 [Accessed: 28 September 2016].
- Sköldunger, A. et al. 2016. The impact of dementia on drug costs in older people: results from the SNAC study. BMC Neurology. doi.org/10.1186/s12883-016-0547-x
- Sikes, P. and Hall, M. 2018. The impact of parental young onset dementia on children and young people’s educational careers. British Educational Research Journal44(4), pp. 593-607. doi: 10.1002/berj.3448
- Wick, J.Y. 2016. How to Communicate Effectively with Dementia Patients. Available at: https://contemporaryclinic.pharmacytimes.com/chronic-care/how-to-communicate-effectively-with-dementia-patients [Accessed: 29 August 2016].
- Wimo, A. et al. 2013. The worldwide economic impact of dementia 2010. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 9(1), pp. 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2012.11.006
- World Health Organization. 2019. Dementia. Available at:
- https://www.who.int/zh/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia [Accessed: 14 May 2019].
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