Helping People with Progressive Memory Disorders »

Introduction

The brain carries out all mental activities, such as thinking and decision making. It is the control center for communication and body movements. Diseases that affect the brain can impair mental abilities and produce dementia.

Dementia is the decline of a person's mental abilities. People who suffer from progressive dementia get worse as time passes. First, they may forget minor events, have difficulty recalling unusual words or names, and may begin to struggle with difficult tasks, such as balancing a checkbook. Eventually they have difficulty recalling even important events, lose their ability to communicate, and have difficulties with everyday chores and routines, such as getting dressed.

In this book, we first briefly discuss how the brain works and pay special attention to the brain systems responsible for memories. Then we suggest ways to deal with declining mental abilities.

There are many diseases that cause dementia. We identify some of the more common diseases and the ones that can be treated. Many diseases that cause problems with memory or thinking do not have specific treatments. For this reason, the major parts of this book describe ways to manage untreatable dementia disorders.

It is not easy for the caregiver or the family to take care of a person with progressive dementia. Based on our work with families through activities at the University of Florida Memory Disorder Clinic, we recommend ways in this book to help care for people with progressive dementia. The pages ahead cover many strategies, such as staying on a routine, and resources, such as support groups and programs with caring people, available to help family, and especially caregivers, with the long-term care so important to the needs of those with progressive dementia.

- K.M. Heilman, MD, Professor of Neurology, University of Florida (UF)
- L. Doty, PhD, Associate Scientist in Neurology, UF
- J.T Stewart, MD, Professor in Psychiatry, University of South Florida
- D. Bowers, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, UF
- L. Gonzalez-Rothi, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, UF

University of Florida Memory Disorder Clinic  

The information in this book addresses problems of memory and cognition (thinking functions). The book is for people who have a progressive memory disorder and the relatives, friends, and others who care for them. It is important to follow the advice of your doctor. Suggestions from this book may provide additional help. For more information, call (352) 265-8408.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Melvin Greer, MD Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology for his ongoing support, advice, and assistance.

Kay Maddala, BSc for her initiative and assistance during the early stages of this book development.

Mary Mangerian Onanian, Reader for her ongoing perspicacity in identifying revisions throughout the development of the manuscript.

University of Florida Shands Neurological Center and Shands HealthCare's Publication Services for funding and producing this guidebook.

The University of Florida Memory Disorder Clinic is partially funded by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Alzheimer's Disease Initiative.

Copyright 1996 Doty, Heilman, Stewart, Bowers, Gonzalez-Rothi

Chapter 1: The Brain

Material taken from

"Helping People with Progressive Memory Disorders: A Guide For You And Your Family, 2nd ed." (University of Florida Health Science Center). Used with permission from the authors: K. M. Heilman, MD, L. Doty, PhD, J. T. Stewart, MD, D Bowers, PhD, & L. Gonzalez-Rothi, PhD. (1999).

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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida