Dementia

Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a part of the normal aging process and may be a sign of dementia. Dementia is a term used to describe the loss of a person’s brain function that effecting thinking, judgment, memory, language, and behavior. Not long ago, people called dementia “senility” and thought it was a natural part of growing old. Now we know that dementia is not a normal part of aging; it is symptomatic of another condition or disease process in the body. There are more than 70 different conditions that can cause or mimic dementia symptoms including depression, thyroid disorders, infections, nutritional deficiencies, and medication reactions.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and is not yet curable. It is estimated that 60-70% of late life dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Because there are several diseases that can cause dementia, it is very important that anyone experiencing dementia symptoms get a thorough evaluation by a health care professional.

Symptoms

People with dementia often experience depression and anxiety and should be treated for those conditions as well. When depression or anxiety is properly treated, people with dementia often demonstrate a higher level of functioning, improved mood, and fewer behavioral issues.

  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks: forgetting steps to everyday routines, i.e. how to use common items or how to participate in a favorite activity.

  • Problems with communication: forgetting simple words, difficulty expressing self, difficulty understanding others, substituting unusual words.

  • Changes in mood and behavior: more rapid and pronounced mood swings, agitation, impulsive behavior, social withdrawal, fearfulness, apathy.

  • Disorientation: getting lost in familiar places, disorientation to general time of day.

June 17, 2016

Maryland breaks the ice about stigma

Last month, six individuals left California on a 5 million-step cross-country marathon called The IceBreaker Run to start a dialogue about the barriers that exist between mental illness and mental health. …

Depression Fact Sheet

Do you feel very tired, helpless and hopeless? Are you sad most of the time and take no pleasure in your family, friends or hobbies? Are you having trouble working, sleeping, eating and fuctioning? Have you felt this way for a long time? If so, you may have depression.

November 11, 2015

Learning Life Lessons from Our Veterans

In 2014, a group from the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) in Baltimore City attended a mental health presentation provided by MHAMD at an annual conference entitled “Why Women Cry.” The rookie MCVET case manager took note that many in the group were uneducated about…

June 17, 2016

Maryland breaks the ice about stigma

Last month, six individuals left California on a 5 million-step cross-country marathon called The IceBreaker Run to start a dialogue about the barriers that exist between mental illness and mental health.

Depression Fact Sheet

Do you feel very tired, helpless and hopeless? Are you sad most of the time and take no pleasure in your family, friends or hobbies? Are you having trouble working, sleeping, eating and fuctioning? Have you felt this way for a long time? If so, you may have depression.

November 11, 2015

Learning Life Lessons from Our Veterans

In 2014, a group from the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) in Baltimore City attended a mental health presentation provided by MHAMD at an annual conference entitled “Why Women Cry.” The rookie MCVET case manager took note that many in the group were uneducated about the very mental illnesses from which they suffered. She was inspired and within a few weeks, she arranged for MHAMD to provide bi-weekly classes to teach the students at MCVET about important behavioral health issues.

The veterans in the MCVET program are called students. They are individuals who have served our country at various levels and who have, in recent years, hit hard times including homelessness. Most of the students experience mental illness, substance use disorders or both. All of them come to MCVET to get their lives on a healthier path and to realize fuller potential. They abandon rank (from a military perspective) and band together in a higher mission – to learn necessary skills and strategies to meet new life goals.

As the MHAMD staff person teaching the MCVET classes on behavioral health, it took only one class for me to learn that the interactive format would place me in the learner’s seat and enable the students to provide the real lessons.

It is humbling to hear from the men and women who are beginning the walk of recovery in the most real sense. It is maddening to hear the internalized stigma and contrition of these individuals who express deep shame for the road they’ve been trudging – the other end of the road they bravely patrolled for me and for my country.

I am always struck by the humility and respect the students show to each other in acknowledgement of individual worth and personal growth. Despite their self-doubt and bruised psyches, they serve as model warriors, delving into self-reflection and deeper contemplation of the experiences they’ve endured on multiple battlegrounds. It is very hard and tiring work for people who find each day to be hard and tiring. Yet, each student endures his or her own epic struggle for self-sufficiency, autonomy and, ultimately, serenity.

Along the way, the experienced students pull the newer students up and into a brighter life. In each class, I benefit from that same pull and I have been stretched to a much greater appreciation for the depth of sacrifice, persistence of bravery and heroism of recovery taught to me by the students at MCVET.

I haven’t been to MCVET after a summer hiatus. I think it is time to return for more lessons.

— Kim Burton, MHAMD’s Director of Older Adult Programs

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, and for the sacrifices made by their family members.

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