Dementia and depression - whether the senescence has to look like that?
Dementia is a neurological condition manifested by reduced cognitive and psychological functioning, altered behaviour and decreased autonomy for social and professional performance in activities of daily living. Dementia is one of the most important causes of disability in the elderly. The number of dementia patients is increasing, as the population is growing older. Recent epidemiological evidence suggested a 2001 prevalence of 24.3 million cases of dementia worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains the most common cause of dementia, responsible for 60–70% of cases in Europe. There are 4.6 million new cases of dementia reported every year – that’s one new case every 7 seconds. Patients with AD gradually lose the ability to function independently and interest in life and many experience changes in personality, social withdrawal, uninhibited behaviour, and psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. The associated likely impact on the health and quality of life of persons with AD, their families, and societal healthcare and welfare resources, have led many authors to describe the condition as a “ticking bomb”. The depression prevalence in later life is 8 to 15%. Suicide in the elderly represents an immensely important and often overlooked medical problem. Based on its many distinct features, age-specifi c risk factors could be identifi ed. Proper diagnosis and treatment of affective disorders – contributing greatly to the pathogenesis of suicide in the elderly – could lead to a major decline in the suicide rate in this population.