Dementia, Delirium, Dyslexia

Not all D’s are the same
Rahman Mohamed

Dementia: an impairment in how you think that can effect your social function

Delirium: a state of confusion related to a medical treatment

Dyslexia: a process in the brain that makes it harder for a person to understand written information

Dementia, delirium and dyslexia all have an effect of how a person thinks and expresses.  They have similarities but are not the same.

Like autism, dyslexia is not a mental health disorder; it is a physical problem with the brain not the mind.  Dyslexia makes it harder for someone to comprehend words.  It leads to the person having a harder time learning from paper.  It’s usually related to genetics and can be associated with other physical medical conditions.  On the other side someone with dyslexia can be a genius.  After understanding math and physics someone with dyslexia may be instantly able to calculate everything needed to build a bridge from the arctic to the moon or calculate pi to a million decimal places in an instant.  Some have suggested that Albert Einstein was dyslexic, someone with dyslexia.  Although he developed the theory of relativity and won a Nobel Prize in Physics (1921) he had trouble with words.  He’s been reported to attribute his work to images in his mind not words.

Dementia is a category.  Mental health problems that affect someone’s ability to function in daily life are classified as dementia.  This means memory problems, communication, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning, judgement, and visual perception.  It includes Alzheimer’s Disease, a mental health problem that is known to come with age.  PTSD is not categorized as a dementia; PTSD affects how person reacts and behaves (more anxious, reserved), memory, perception, reasoning, judgement, and communication do not.

Delirium has symptoms similar to a dementia.  Both include difficulty communication, memory, and behaviour.  There are also emotional difficulties that appear with delirium.  Dementia includes a person’s ability to focus but they often remain alert; someone with delirium is less alert.  Dementia appears gradually while delirium appears instantly.  Dementia is also stable, the symptoms stay at a level.  Delirium symptoms fluctuate, they go up and down.

Problems categorized as dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can be prevented by regular sleeping patterns, exercising, and keeping the mind active.  Delirium can be prevented using similar methods, but it also appears because of medication, surgery or other medical problems.  Dementia is often stand-alone, a condition that is not influenced by another condition.  Delirium can be a symptom or side-effect not a stand-alone.

Delirium, Dementia, and Dyslexia are primarily related to communication – speaking, writing, and understanding.  Each has been found to primarily cause a different effect.  Causes and treatment also differ.

If you have difficulties or know someone with difficulties the best first step to take is to speak with a family doctor.  Family doctors can refer you to doctors that specialise in mental health.


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