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Chapter 1 - Different Perspectives on Dementia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

Mathieu Vandenbulcke
KU Leuven, Belgium
Rose-Marie Dröes
Amsterdam University Medical Centre
Erik Schokkaert
KU Leuven, Belgium
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Cognitive failure and the fear of losing control over one’s life has occupied mankind for centuries. In our chapter we describe the conceptual history of dementia starting with the first written traces from the twenty-fourth century BCE, relating the story of an Egyptian officer who not only developed the inability to remember yesterday but also became more and more childish. Subsequently, we summarize medical discoveries that have allowed cognitive, psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia to be viewed as a result of brain disease rather than, for instance, witchcraft or ill will. In the context of growing awareness of neuro-pathophysiological mechanisms underlying dementia, associated with postmortem brain research in the late ninettenth century, Alzheimer’s disease became the ‘face’ of dementia for some time. We discuss further developments in the discovery and in the treatment of different types of dementia, also focusing on psychosocial aspects of the disease. These became an important topic of research as pharmacological treatments aimed at curing the neurodegenerative causes of dementia as yet do not exist. AWe compare how different cultures and societies deal with dementia. Finally, the political and societal attempts to promote social inclusion and empowerment of individuals with dementia are summarized.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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