Module 8 - Mental and Physical Health


Ageing and Mental Illness

As people age they are at increased risk of dementia, and this is also true for people with intellectual disability.  There is no single definition of dementia. It is a general term used to describe a collection of illnesses which present with a similar pattern of symptoms and are associated with a progressive and irreversible deterioration in brain function, resulting in premature death. The symptoms include problems with memory, abstract thinking, judgment, verbal fluency and performance of complex tasks. Personality can change. Physical health deteriorates and the person becomes increasingly frail and can become fully dependent on others to meet their basic needs. There can be a range of psychiatric and behavioural symptoms that occur as the dementia progresses.

Diagnostic Criteria for dementia

The following symptoms and signs are required for a diagnosis of dementia to be given: A duration of at least six months. No other physical or psychiatric cause. The symptoms and signs must represent a change from the person’s normal functioning. Memory impairment is present. Impairment of other cognitive skills, judgement and thinking is also present. The cause is not related to delirium. There is reduced emotional control, reduced motivation or changes in social behaviour.  
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