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Topic the brain, memory and dementia pt 1 Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By karolinakitty On 2011.08.21 13:06
Over the next few days I would like to talk about Dementia, memory and the brain. I might get just a little technical but I’d like to try and keep it plain and simple. I have no medical degree, but I did take physiology and anatomy back in the day, so I have a little understanding of the human body work-up. I am not a neurologist and did not study to be one. I am of average intelligence but still at this age of 53, love to learn all about this disease, it’s issues and all things in between. I also want to teach folks about this disease and PD. I want caregivers and patients to realize the complexity of things and that life isn’t black and white. There are grey areas in this walk with PD that most of us will never really learn the whole truth about.

While the medical field continues to agree to disagree about the degrees of dementia, those of us out there fighting it need to understand it so we might be able to care for and live with its issues. Both caregiver and patient need to understand the realities. We need to understand that what we perceive AS dementia is not always what it IS.

Intelligence and dementia are two different aspects of the brain that need to be cleared up in my opinion. It is too often mixed up and messed up in the lives of those dealing with dementia.

Intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Dementia: a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental process caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.

Most of our intelligence in the middle stages of life has already been categorized in the files of our brain. Our schooling from elementary to college, general life experiences and the knowledge we have acquired from those everyday experiences including our workplace is there filed away for the opportunity to be used. Never in a million years did I think I could possibly gain any more intelligence then I already had, but here I am researching and reading medical language to try and figure out what is going on with my loved one. I thank the good Lord I am still able to comprehend and understand what I am reading. I am not afraid of being wrong, of finding something I don’t understand, of finding out the good, the bad and the ugly, it all goes with the WANT to learn.

I hate to sound like a broken record, BUT, there is not a whole lot of research out there done on those under the age of 65, who have Dementia. In my research I have to go with the studies and research done on those 65 and over and truthfully, I just hate that. Dementia is not just an “old age” disease. It affects those even in their late 20’s. Perhaps like with PD, there is YOPD there should be YOD (Young Onset Dementia). Yeah, I know another group to collect money for research but they really need to know it affects each age group differently, just like PD does.

Intelligence gained prior to the onset of Dementia, will still be there in the files, it may be put in a folder we forgot about, but it is still there. That is the key: memory.

Memory refers to the storage, retention and recall of information including past experiences. It can vary greatly according to that person and their state of mind. It can also relate to the content of that information. If that information is novel or exciting, it tends to be better remembered than that which is uninteresting or ordinary. Failure to remember can normally result from inadequate storage in the first place thus causing failure to retain (forgetting) and failure to later retrieve.
Most scientists believe that memories result from changes in connections between neurons. In simple terms it takes two…two neurons connected to create a memory, if these connections are disrupted…no memory. Just like in a word document on a computer, you need to hit “save”, if you don’t, all info is lost.
There are different types of memory -
Sensory: after a stimulus, information is held in its exact form as it was received until further processing. Typically, it only lasts seconds before being overwritten, like files deleted from a hard drive. It’s still there in its exact form, a copy. Psychologists believe it is stored as a picture or “icon”. They sometimes refer to it as iconic memory. Then there is the echoic memory, that of sound (stored as an echo). Then there are others for taste, smell and touch.

Short Term – info stored for just a few minutes. Unlike sensory, it is not stored as a visual but as an abstract. Short term is of limited capacity. The test the docs give every time we are there contains 5 words..eg..apple, table, penny, tree, frog, depending on how many and what order the patient remembers them in, is the degree of short term memory loss. However, if the items mentioned are of most importance to the individual, this test goes out the window. My name being Penny is of the most importance to Jim so he may say it first, throwing the results off. Also, these items can be maintained if repeated over and over again. Thus causing the slyest of patients to know those words. Jim actually walked into an appointment with the PA and straight up told her the five words. This again is a failure in the docs office to know a patient.

Intermediate Term – or working term. Memory for a specific task they are working on. Failure to remember a series of numbers, but, for example, if that series of numbers is your daughters phone number, it can be retained.

Long-Term – are memories that last for years. It contains everything we know about our world, semantic and factual, as well as autobiographical. For example the concept of lake, may be retrieved by seeing a lake, or by a song, talk of fishing and so on.

Neurologists often use these terms in slightly different classifications. Short-term may be for memory of events which recently occurred and Long-term is memory for events in the distant past.

Psychologists vs Neurologists…but basically the same concept.

If there is anyone with objections to me doing this feel free to object.... all I want to do is help those dealing with this, if this is not the place than so be it.....if no objections raised i will do part 2

By caregivermary On 2011.08.21 16:48
I don't object at all to your talking out loud about the brain, memory and dementia. However, after reading your first post, I have to say I am confused by some of the comments.

"Intelligence and dementia are two different aspects of the brain that need to be cleared up in my opinion. It is too often mixed up and messed up in the lives of those dealing with dementia."

"While the medical field continues to agree to disagree about the degrees of dementia, those of us out there fighting it need to understand it so we might be able to care for and live with its issues. Both caregiver and patient need to understand the realities. We need to understand that what we perceive AS dementia is not always what it IS."

"Intelligence gained prior to the onset of Dementia, will still be there in the files, it may be put in a folder we forgot about, but it is still there. That is the key: memory."

"Psychologists vs Neurologists…but basically the same concept."

I commend you for trying to take this on. I think it is a good idea for us to talk about Dementia. Hopefully, others will join in and share their knowledge We all may have a better understanding of the type of dementia associated with PD through this process.

By karolinakitty On 2011.08.21 18:06
I guess it's a little confusing right now because i am doing it in parts. once the whole thing is complete it will make better sense.
On your first issue, intelligence & dementia. Many folks think that immediately when diagnosed you have no intelligence. this is untrue. the intelligence is stored, in most cases it is the retrieval process that is disconnected.

ABout the degrees of dementia, kind of like the stages of PD. What is considered, for example mild - moderate- severe---- Our issues as a caregiver aren't so much about stages/degrees as how to deal with the "patient"on all levels. Also as PD is considered, by the world only as the shaking disease, Folks hear the word Dementia and only think of someone staring off into space not knowing who or where they are. This also is a misconception. Early dementia is not like that at all.
My guy actually brought the Psychologist/ Neurologist issue. Me bad... didn't make it clear. The research about the different types of memory was from the psychological viewpoint while the comment ...Neurologists often uses these terms etc...was from a neurology paper i read....sorry about that ......

By LOHENGR1N On 2011.08.22 00:04
kk, What a fine kettle of fish you've set here. Not only are We not Doctors but We're into the cloudy region of reason. Interesting. I have to disagree with You on this statement though; "On your first issue, intelligence & dementia. Many folks think that immediately when diagnosed you have no intelligence. this is untrue. the intelligence is stored, in most cases it is the retrieval process that is disconnected." While the retrieval process is flawed in dementia the intelligence isn't stored. Facts and data are stored like on your computer the intelligence is what puts these facts to rational use. The data is retrieved and intelligence sorts it for proper usage. If intelligence were stored then Your statement Many folks think immediately when diagnosed you have no intelligence would be partially true if stored and with a flawed retrieval you couldn't always get to your intelligence. As an extreme example
if One asked when did Columbus discover America? Flawed retrieval might supply; George Washington, 2011 and bread box. Intelligence then would sort the correct answer from this, depending on what the person is doing or concentrating on at the moment, they could hear America and match George Washington, or year and say 2011, they might even be thinking about eating a sandwich and say bread box. So being the data that is stored and faulty retrieval, intelligence is at work making the best of what was heard and the information supplied to fit as correct an answer as it can. Very interesting subject, I'm curious to see where it goes and what We can gain from it.

By karolinakitty On 2011.08.22 08:22
Yes Al..again that is where the controversy lies...why everyone also agrees to disagree. I took the stand of "intelligence still there" for the simple fact that i have seen and read things that really lean me that way.
You are right with your example, however, if the right "trigger" is displayed, a picture of the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta, it could bring out the 1492. They are finding that even some of severe patients can show "intelligence" when certain triggers are introduced.
Remember annwood and her husband lecturing in the nude? His knowledge of the surgery was right on, doing it in the nude was not, but, the knowledge of what he was talking about was triggered and off he spoke. Some dementia patients get creative, the thought process is triggered in different ways, but then i am getting ahead of myself...even my guy, classified with mild to moderate, can still write intelligent essay's and comments, and probably talk your ear off about certain subjects and be dead on. However, you may be there a little longer, as his speech and recollection of words is slowed.

By parkinit On 2011.08.24 10:55
Go on... I'm listening. :) I, too, am interested to see where you are going with this.


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