Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Early diagnosis can help control geriatric dementia
老人失智莫輕忽 及早就診可控制

A woman hands a balloon to an elderly man in Chiayi County on Nov. 22.
一位女士十一月二十二日於嘉義縣將汽球送給一位老人。

Photo: Yu Hsueh-lan, Liberty Times
照片:自由時報記者余雪蘭

In Taiwan’s graying population, it is crucial that we pay attention to the mental health of the seniors in our families, and not only concern ourselves with their physical health. Drastic changes in the way a senior talks or behaves, or suddenly becoming suspicious of others for no reason, should all be taken quite seriously.

Chang Hui-wen, an attending physician in the geriatrics department at Changhua Christian Hospital’s Erlin branch, says that dementia in the geriatric population is usually brought on by the degeneration of neurons and blood vessels in the brain, the symptoms for which include cognitive, psychological and behavioral abnormalities. Having a stroke or Parkinson’s disease can also cause dementia.

Chang says that senility is something that everyone must eventually face at some point in life, but says that typically when an elderly person with dementia is taken to see a doctor, it will be because a spouse feels like their husband or wife has suddenly changed, or a son or daughter feels as though a parent has suddenly become exceedingly suspicious of others.

Dementia does not mean that your memory simply deteriorates to the point where you forget to eat and complain about your children not feeding you. When a senior starts showing signs of dementia, it will usually make you feel like they have become an entirely different person. A warm, gentle person will start using obscene language to curse at you, eventually reaching the breaking point, even for family members. Some people who are usually good-natured and caring suddenly become suspicious of everyone, doubting whether their children have stolen money from them, or put poison in their food, and family members offer explanations to no avail. This is the point when people usually seek medical help.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. suspicious adj.

猜疑的;疑心的 (cai1 yi2 de5; yi2 xin1 de5)

例: He became increasingly suspicious that his wife was having an affair after smelling another man’s cologne on her clothes.

(他聞到其他男人的香水在妻子衣服上後,愈來懷疑她劈腿。)

2. breaking point n. phr.

臨界點;轉化點 (lin2 jie4 dian3; zhuan3 hua4 dian3)

例: That’s the last straw. I’ve reached my breaking point. I quit.

(我受夠了,已經到了臨界點。我不幹了。)

3. to no avail v. phr.

都無用;徒勞無功 (dou1 wu2 yong4; tu2 lao2 wu2 gong1)

例: The children protested their mother’s request to no avail.

(孩童反抗媽媽的要求,但都沒用。)


Chang also says that as soon as a senior shows signs of dementia, family members become the primary line of defense. Early detection is the only way for early treatment to begin, and the only way to keep the condition from worsening. Sudden personality, linguistic, behavioral, attitudinal, cognitive or memory problems, as well as becoming increasingly suspicious of others or emotionally dysfunctional, are all possible indicators that a family member is suffering from dementia. The only way to find a proper treatment is by seeing a doctor and conducting an evaluation that takes into consideration mental, physical and emotional factors, and balancing medications.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

隨著台灣進入高齡化社會,除了關心老人身體健康以外,也要同時注意家中長者的精神狀況,當老人家突然言行有了大變化,或是疑心病讓家人覺得匪夷所思的地步,就千萬不能輕忽!

彰化基督教醫院二林分院老人醫學科主治醫師張惠雯表示,老人失智症通常是腦部血管或是神經元退化所引發的疾病,往往會合併出現認知、心理與行為的異常,包括中風、巴金森氏症等也都可能會有失智情況產生。

張惠雯強調,老化是所有人都要面對的課題,但往往老人有失智症狀被帶到門診時,通常都是被配偶發現「另一半怎麼變了一個人」?或是子女發現「父母親怎麼都疑神疑鬼」?

但失智症不只是記憶退化到忘記吃飯,又抱怨子女不給飯吃的情況而已。有的老人失智症患者會給人「變了一個人」的觀感,有的是原本溫文儒雅的性格,卻會罵髒話、爆粗口,連家人都受不了;有的是原本敦厚良善的性格,卻突然間看誰都不順眼,懷疑身邊至親都在偷他的錢、偷偷在飯菜下毒害他,家屬一再解釋都徒勞無功,才會到醫院求助。

張惠雯指出,一旦高齡者出現老人失智症的徵兆,親人是第一線的最佳守護者,早期發現才能及早治療,也才能延緩失智症狀的繼續退化,只要家中長者出現性格、言語、行為、態度、認知、記憶、疑心病與情緒障礙時,這些都是失智症的警訊,及早就醫才能從患者心智、生理、平衡藥物與情緒等多方面進行評估,以找出治療方式。

(自由時報記者劉曉欣)

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