Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Is This Dementia? (A Funny Thing Happened To Me On My Way To The Forum)

This is not about the broadway play nor the film, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

I just want to have a "catchy" subtitle for this blog entry...

Earlier today ( 2 July 2008) I went to Leong Hall (the new Social Science building in campus) to attend the Environmental Leadership Forum. When I reached the hall I was surprised to see a different event going on, not a forum. I thought that perhaps I went to the wrong venue. Later, when I rechecked my invitation (I did not bring it along with me earlier), I realized that the forum was scheduled on July 3 and not July 2. I was correct about the venue but I was wrong about the date.

When I reflected on what happened I began to have a scary thought. Am I having a case of "dementia"?

Or is this just a case of watching too much "Dr. House" on tv?

I am not a medical doctor but I deal with biomedical-related research, particularly in computing and medical informatics.

My first instinct was to look into an online encyclopedia like Wikipedia and search for introductory information.

Here are some information that I gathered from a Wikipedia article on dementia:

1. Dementia (from Latin de- "apart, away" + mens (genitive mentis) "mind") is the progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging.

2. Although dementia is far more common in the
geriatric population, it may occur in any stage of adulthood. This age cutoff is defining, as similar sets of symptoms due to organic brain dysfunction are given different names in populations younger than adulthood (see, for instance, developmental disorders).

3. Dementia is a non-specific illness
syndrome (set of symptoms) in which affected areas of cognition may be memory, attention, language, and problem solving. Higher mental functions are affected first in the process. Especially in the later stages of the condition, affected persons may be disoriented in time (not knowing what day of the week, day of the month, month, or even what year it is), in place (not knowing where they are), and in person (not knowing who they are).

4. Symptoms of dementia can be classified as either reversible or irreversible, depending upon the
etiology of the disease. Less than 10 percent of cases of dementia are due to causes which may presently be reversed with treatment. Causes include many different specific disease processes, in the same way that symptoms of organ dysfunction such as shortness of breath, jaundice, or pain are attributable to many etiologies. Without careful assessment of history, the short-term syndrome of delirium can easily be confused with dementia, because they have many symptoms in common. Some mental illnesses, including depression and psychosis, may also produce symptoms which must be differentiated from both delirium and dementia [1].

Reference: [1]
American Family Physician, March 1, 2003

Of course, the best way to confirm my speculation is for me to undergo medical examination and consult experts in the field.

So, am I just overreacting? Should I accept that the fact I am "aging" now and will soon enter another phase of life? Or is this just a case of "brain overload" (too much information processing)?

I know that it is an overreaction on my part but I'm just "thinking out loud."

And besides, I want to introduce the topic dementia in my blog :)

One thing I know for sure -- dementia is not funny.



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