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It's not what you think it is

So what is dementia?

I’ve worked with elderly people for many years, but it wasn’t until I understood cognition (mental processes) from a different perspective that I started to see that not all ‘dementia’s' are created equal. In fact, most so called ‘dementias’ are a very treatable condition called a visual perceptual deficit.

We have all developed ideas around 'dementia', and most of them come from our experiences in seeing people in nursing homes and from what medicine tells us about it. Interestingly, most of the people who who diagnose this condition have no background in treating cognitive issues – you have to be a therapist to do that. Instead they tend to be medical doctors, who while they may have received training around cogntition, only know and understand it from what they observe, and not from the direct experience of how these conditions respond to therapy. I have long said that this is not to anyone's advantage, because it provides a limited perspective on what constitutes a treatable condition and what does not. At the time of writing this I am aware of someone who had been diagnosed with dementia who doesn't demonstrate any cognitive issues at all.

Dementia is a term used to describe a decline in cognition (mental process), which includes things such as:
  • Memory, judgementMan holding his head
  • Planning
  • Concentration
  • Etc
However, a decline in cogntive performance can have a widespread and significant impact, frequently resulting in psychological and emotional issues, which only ever make the cogntive issues worse. My exploration of cognitive performance in elite athletes (a population that often demonstrates perfectionist drives and unhelpful modes of dealing with them), has clearly demonstrated how those psychological and emotional issues can actually lead to a decline in cognitive performance; not something they want to see when they are competing.
It has been my ongoing experience that no one can determine, with absolute clarity, what anyone's cogntive performance truly is, if there is any evidence whatsoever of depression or anxiety. Such psychological and emotional states cloud the clinical picture and make it impossible to know what the true cognitive status is.

There is a very clear dynamic, which occurs between our cognitive performance and our psychological and emotional states. A decline in cognition frequently leads to a feeling of loss of control or a fear of where this is going to lead. As the person starts to experience a reduction in their ability to perform everyday tasks, along with an erosion of their independence, depression and anxiety can set it. This only ever adds to the level of sensory overload already occurring, because anxiety and depression are experienced as 'felt' or experiential states, which puts them in the realm of something we perceive ie; they require us to process and integrate sensory information into patterns.

Cognitive issues always occur as a result of a breakdown in perceptual performance ie: the person is unable to process and integrate the volume of sensory information within their environment. This results in some information remaining in the nervous system as undifferentiated sensory noise, which is the cause of sensory information. Consequently, it stands to reason that the person with the cognitive deficit is already in sensory overload and the addition of these psychological and emotional states only ever adds to this.

The reality is that most 'dementias' are a processing disorder, which are also known as visual perceptual deficits, and they are entirely treatable, especially in those early stages. When someone is diagnosed with 'dementia' it's a great idea to seek professional advice from someone who treats cognitive deficits at their core. They can quickly tell you if it is worth engaging in the necessary therapy for this; but, just be aware that not all therapy is createdadults equal. Unfortunately, most therapy is not 'new generation' or can even be said to be 21st cetury. Just make sure you are getting the best advice available.  

If you would like to read more on this topic, you can find articles here.

If you would like to speak to me about your particular situation, please contact me so we can make arrangements to to do this.
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The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only. It should not to be used as a substitute for professional advice about any person’s specific circumstances, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any person or condition. 

The services described on this site, along with outcomes attained and time frames required to attain them, should not be equated with any other person, service or organisation; nor should it be assumed or understood that the services, therapy or programs outlined on this website are in any way similar to those offered or provided by any other person or organisation.

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© Natoya Rose 2017