Author: michaelpatterson

Dementia

A condition I find many people misunderstand is Dementia. This is because for some people Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are the same thing, when in fact Alzheimer’s Disease is one form of Dementia. Just as there are a large range of Cancer illnesses such as Leukaemia or Prostate Cancer, there are a large range of illnesses which are types of Dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness. It is a symptom of several underlying diseases and brain disorders. Dementia is not a single disease, but a general term to describe symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking.

Dementia includes the following conditions:

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Vascular Dementia
  3. Lewy body Dementia
  4. Parkinson’s Disease
  5. Frontotemporal Dementia/ Pick’s Disease
  6. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  7. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  8. Mixed dementia- When a person has more then one type of Dementia
  9. Normal pressure Hydrocephalus
  10. Huntington’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease: This is the most common form of Dementia and according to the Alzheimer’s Association 60- 80% of Dementia patients have this form of the illness. In it is early stages Alzheimer’s Disease can cause patients to feel depressed. Depression is not a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease and being diagnosed with Depression does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease also include difficulty remembering names as well as short term memory issues.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by brain cell death. As the disease progresses, people experience confusion and mood changes. They also have trouble speaking and walking. Alzheimer’s Disease is more likely to develop in older adults, however 5% of early onset cases develop in people between 40 and 50.

Vascular Dementia: This is the second most common form of Dementia. Lack of blood flow to the brain causes the illness. Vascular Dementia can happen as you age and can be related to atherosclerotic disease or stroke. Depending on the cause the symptoms of Vascular Dementia can develop over time or develop suddenly. Common early signs are confusion and disorientation. Vascular Dementia can also cause hallucinations and vision problems.

Lewy body Dementia: This is the form of Dementia Robin Williams is believed to have had before he died. Lewy body Dementia is caused by protein deposits in nerve cells, which disrupts chemical messages to the brain causing memory loss and disorientation in patients. Visual hallucinations can also be experienced by Lewy body Dementia patients. Lewy body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease share many of the same symptoms making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. Many patients with Lewy body Dementia develop trembling in their hands, have trouble walking, and feel weak.

Parkinson’s Disease: Many patients of advanced Parkinson’s Disease will develop Dementia. Issues with reasoning and judgements can be early signs. Patient’s may have confusing or frightening hallucinations. Parkinson’s Disease Dementia can cause irritability, depression or cause the patient to become paranoid as the illness progresses. Patients may also have difficulty speaking, remembering words or lose where they are in the conversation.

Frontotemporal Dementia/ Pick’s Disease: Frontotemporal Dementia is a name used to describe several types of dementia, all with one thing in common: They affect the front and side parts of the brain, which are the areas that control language and behaviour. Frontotemporal Dementia is also known as Pick’s disease. This form of Dementia can affect people as young as 45 years old. Scientist’s do not yet know the exact cause; however, it is known that Frontotemporal Dementia does run in families. Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia have mutations in certain genes according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Frontotemporal Dementia causes loss of inhibitions and motivation, as well as compulsive behaviour. It also causes patients to have problems with speech, including forgetting the meaning of common words.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, (CJD) is an extremely rare type of Dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association report that 1 in 1 million people are diagnosed with CJD each year. CJD has similar symptoms to other types of Dementia such as Depression, memory loss, confusion, and agitation. CJD affects the body as well, causing twitching and muscle stiffness.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: This type of Dementia, also known as Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, is a brain condition caused by a lack of vitamin B1, resulting in bleeding to the lower sections of the brain. If left untreated Wernicke’s Encephalopathies physical symptoms begin to reduce and the signs of Korsakoff Syndrome develop. Korsakoff syndrome is a memory disorder caused by advanced Wernicke’s disease. People with Korsakoff syndrome may have trouble, processing information, learning new skills as well as remembering things.

Mixed Dementia: This is when a patient has more then one form of Dementia.This is common with the most common combination being Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. This affected my Nan on my Mum’s side of the family, becoming more advanced over the last four years of her life. According to the Jersey Alzheimer’s Association, up to 45% of patients with dementia have mixed dementia but do not know it.

Normal pressure Hydrocephalus: Normal pressure Hydrocephalus, (NPH) causes a build up of excess fluid in a patient’s brain ventricles. The brain’s ventricles are fluid-filled spaces designed to protect a patient’s brain and spinal cord. An excessive amount of fluid places extra pressure on the brain, causing damage which leads to symptoms of Dementia. An estimated 5% of Dementia cases are caused by NPH.

Huntington’s Disease: Huntington’s Disease is a genetic condition which causes Dementia. There are two types, Juvenile and Adult Onset. Adult Onset is more common with patients showing signs in their 30’s or 40’s. Huntington’s Disease causes premature breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells, leading to Dementia and impaired movement. Symptoms associated with Huntington’s disease include impaired movements, such as jerking, difficulty walking, and trouble swallowing. Dementia symptoms include, difficulty focusing on tasks, impulse control problems, trouble speaking clearly and difficult learning new things.

Much like my post on PTSD, Dementia is too large a subject to cover in one post. Keep in mind that the patient will have good days and bad days, they might not recognise your voice on the phone yet recognise your face so the patient will know who you are when they see you. A Dementia patient might have issues with short term memory yet have an intact long- term memory. Most importantly the patient is still the person they were before Dementia developed, do not treat the patient as an invalid, treat them the same as you would have done before and do not try to make them remember anything. When my Nan was still alive, I would usually have the same conversation with her five times in a ten- minute phone call simply because for my Nan it was the first time, she asked me that question. For more information click on the links below.

Useful Links:

www.nhs.uk/codementia/about/nditions/

www.alzheimers.org.uk

www.healthline.com/health/types-dementia#other-causes

www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia

www.dementiauk.org

New Lockdown Measures For England

Lockdown for most of England was eased on Saturday July 4th with the exception of Leicester which has to stick with the previous restriction levels for a further two weeks. This is due to a rise of cases in the city. Under the new guidance pubs, salons/barbers and cinema’s can now reopen so long as they follow strict social distancing guidelines. Gyms, leisure centres and theatres are still closed though. This does not make much sense to me as you do not need to be a genius to know that a drunk person will be less likely to observe social distancing rules then a sober person exercising in a gym. It is true that people will need to book a table at a pub in advanced and that pubs will need to keep a record of every person who has been in the pub for three weeks to help track and trace any outbreaks, however gyms and leisure centres are not just good for physical health but mental health as well. The two-meter rule has also been changed to one meter plus. Two households can also meet indoors as part of a, “Social Bubble” to help people living alone avoid loneliness. The definition of a support bubble according to the BBC can be found below:

What is a support bubble?

  • A bubble is defined as a group of people with whom you have close physical contact. The idea was first introduced in New Zealand.
  • In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, single adults living alone – or single parents whose children are under 18 – can now form a support bubble with one other household.
  • The second household can be of any size.
  • Currently, nobody who is shielding should join a bubble, but this restriction will be lifted from 6 July in England.
  • The independent advisory group Sage has been asked to examine if, when and how people might safely be allowed to expand their bubbles.
  • Announcing the latest easing of rules in Wales on 19 June. First Minister Mark Drakeford said he expected to make a decision about whether to introduce social bubbles in the next few weeks.

What are the support bubble rules?

  • Support bubbles must be “exclusive”. Once in one, you can’t switch and start another with a different household.
  • People in each bubble can visit each other’s homes and go inside.
  • They won’t have to do social distancing and can even stay overnight.
  • Anyone in the bubble contacted as part of England’s test and trace programme must stay at home. If they develop coronavirus symptoms, everyone in the bubble must self-isolate.

Useful Links:

https://www.who.int/

https://www.gov.uk/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53279855

Post EU Trade

british farming

Recently I have had lots of emails from campaign groups wanting me to sign and share petitions against trade deals with Donald Trumps led USA government once the United Kingdom has ended its transition period with the European Union, (EU) over fears that our food standards would be lowered. While the UK was part of the European Union trade deals with other countries were negotiated by the EU on behalf of all members, meaning it was harder for countries like the USA to dictate the terms, and animal welfare standards along with agriculture was placed high on the agenda.

The majority of the petitions I have received revolve around chlorinated chicken from America and fears that it will soon be on our supermarket shelves without being labelled as chlorinated chicken. What these petitions failed to explain to me is what exactly are the reasons that American farmers wash their chickens in chlorine to begin with. What is it about American farming practices that makes it necessary?

The EU banned chlorinated chicken in all member states 1997 over fears of food safety. This includes concerns over reduced hygiene practices. People who advocate for the practice of washing chicken in chlorine is that it kills bacteria and reduces the risk of salmonella. Political advocates of chlorinated chicken argue that it is financially beneficial as it can reduce price by 20%, meaning people on lower incomes can still afford to buy chicken. People who argue against allowing chlorinated chicken to be sold in the UK argue that the practice leads to lower hygiene standards in abattoirs and food production factories as producers rely on the chlorine solution to rinse harmful substances from the animal. It should be added that chlorination is not believed to be harmful for consumption with both the USDA and EU food safety regulator EFSA saying it is safe when the chicken is eaten in moderation. Despite this I am personally more persuaded by the arguments against the sale of chlorinated chicken. It may be 20% cheaper however I would prefer to pay a higher price to ensure that the food I am eating has been produced to the highest standards possible with the least chemical treatment.

Below you will find an extract from the RSPCA Assured website for why they are concerned about chlorinated chicken:

Why is American chicken chlorinated?

“The reason US farmers [use chlorine washing] is because their animals are raised in such cramped conditions that the only way to stop them becoming diseased is to dunk them in chlorine,” he said. “It’s really an animal welfare issue here. If UK farmers want to compete against American imports, they’ll have to lower standards or go out of business.” – Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now warning on the implications of the UK doing a trade deal with the US.

 

RSPCA Assured believes in maintaining the higher animal welfare standards we’ve established in the UK. We agree with the EU that the surest way to fight salmonella and other bacteria in foods is through higher welfare standards maintained from farm to fork. While we don’t have any chlorinated chicken in the UK at the moment, the best way to support British farmers, now and in the future, and to be sure you are buying higher welfare meat, fish and dairy is to look for the RSPCA Assured logo when you shop.

If American farmers are doing this to their chickens what else could they be doing to the other animals they farm?

 

Useful Links:

https://greatbritishmeat.com/blogs/butchers-blog/chlorinated-chicken

https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/news/chlorinated-chicken/

https://www.beuc.eu/blog/what-is-wrong-with-chlorinated-chicken/

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/is-chlorine-washed-chicken-coming-to-the-uk/

The Power of Animals

Bob

Friendship comes in many forms. One form that is not always understood is the friendship between people and animals. The 2016 film, “A Street Cat Named Bob” tells the true story of how a homeless recovering drug addict and busker is befriended by a stray cat when he enters supported accommodation. Spurred on by Bob’s devotion James Bowen not only overcomes his drug addiction, he reconnects with his father who had appeared to have given up on him and James also writes his story which became a best seller. In the film James Bowen makes a cameo appearance at the end of the film as an extra and Bob plays himself throughout the movie as no other cat would have been appropriate. Sadly, Bob died on June 16th, 2020 at the age of 14. Since the release of, “A Street Cat Named Bob” was released James Bowen has gone on to write two more books The World According to Bob and A Gift from Bob, which became international best sellers and dedicates his time to helping numerous charities that involve homelessness, literacy, and animal welfare.
I have had many pets throughout my life and am always amazed at how they have always been able to tell when I have needed cheering up, as well as their ability to know exactly what I need at the time. As people we do not always deserve animals.
It is often said that dogs are a man’s best friend. For James Bowen, his best friend was A Street Cat Named Bob.