Dementia is not a specific disease. It is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer disease or a series of strokes. It is a term that describes a collection of symptoms that are a result of damage to areas of the brain, which are responsible for higher level cognitive functions, such as reasoning, memory, attention, and language.
More than 100 different diseases have been identified that cause symptoms of dementia. Dementia aetiology and pathogenesis is unclear and diagnosis remains complex and challenging. The diagnostic pathway relies on a combination of tests, such as cognitive assessments, imaging, and laboratory tests to reach a diagnosis.
Epidemiologic data has shown that there is an increasing number of people living with dementia, which poses a challenge for the health care industry. In 2018, dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion with that predicted to increase to more than $18.7 billion by 2025.
This first module discusses the clinical features, pathogenesis, diagnosis of dementia, and provides an overview of cognitive assessment tools used during the diagnosis process. The second module provides an overview of available treatments and the recommended strategies and guidelines for dementia care.
Both of these modules are aimed at all nurses who are coordinating care for patients who present with symptoms or who have been diagnosed with dementia. It will be of interest to anyone involved in nursing who has an interest in neurodegenerative disorders or geriatric medicine.
At the end of this module participants will be able to:
- Identify the main diseases that cause the symptoms of dementia.
- Identify the clinical features of dementia.
- Know the recommended cognitive assessment tests, when to use them, and where to locate them.