Cognitive Key Question

Key Question

Using our understanding of memory from cognitive psychology to help devise ways to help people with dementia/Alzheimer's disease.

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About the Issue

Alzheimer's is a progressive condition and affects multiple brain functions. The first sign is usually minor memory problems, such as forgetting the names of places and objects. As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop. These include confusion and getting lost in familiar places, difficulty planning or making decisions, problems with speech and language, problems moving around without assistance, personality changes such as becoming aggressive, hallucinations and delusions and low mood or anxiety.

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Impacts on Society

  • Alzheimer's disease is most common in people over the age of 65 and affects slightly more women than men.
  • The risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia increases with age.
  • It effects an estimated 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 over the age of 80.
  • However, around 1 in every 20 cases of Alzheimer's disease affects people aged 40 to 65.
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Concepts/Theories

  • Episodic and Semantic memory (Tulving 1972) suggests that people don't lose all of their memory. The decline starts from the 'now' and moves later into the past. They often remember events that happened a long time ago and might 'live in the past'. This can be applied to help them, such as creating a memory box to act as retrieval cues and ensure that you reiterate meaning of contexts as a new context can be very confusing for an Alzheimer's sufferer.
  • The working memory model can also be applied. Research within clinical patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease has shown decrease central executive function as the disease has progressed. We can use this to make sure you only ask questions with a singular response.
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Concepts/Theories

  • Sebastian and Hernandez-Gil's research showed people with Alzheimer's have a small digit span and cannot chunck information together. Therefore, you should ensure that if you are getting sufferers to remember digits, maybe getting them to visualise position of numbers rather than saying them may be a better and more effective method.
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