Dementia & Physical Activity Among the Elderly
Rapid economic and social development in the last century and improved living conditions have prolonged the lives of people worldwide, most notably in the developed world. People remain socially, psychologically and physically active up to a very old age, for which individuals and society take care of in different ways. Nevertheless, the age brings many physical, psychological, social, and other changes. In old age, some chronic non-communicable illnesses, especially cardiovascular diseases, muscle and metabolic diseases, become more common. They reduce the quality of life for the patients and their relatives, and represent an economic burden for the society. However, with the students of Master's study programme of Social gerontology (AMEU – ECM) we did not want to focus on the mentioned illnesses. Instead, we, at the SOCIAL GERONTOLOGY AS A FIELD OF RESEARCH course, focused on various aspects of an illness, which, due to its specificity, presents an increasing problem, from the health, social, as well as economic point of view, and that is dementia. The term dementia combines a group of illnesses, characterised by cognitive changes of the patient because of the central nervous system disorder. The World Health Organisation describes dementia as a chronic progressive syndrome, characterised by a decline in functional abilities, as well as thoughts and behaviour.
While creating the monograph, the Alzheimer's disease, have been a very common subject of scientific research during the last two decades, since they represent a great burden for patients, their relatives and society, while for the homes for the elderly, where these patients most often live in the advanced stage of the disease, they represent an organisational challenge. Many aspects of the disease are being studied: social, preventive, demographic, nursing and caring, medical, organisational, and economic.
While creating the monograph, we were guided by the idea that, in the management of complex problems related to dementia, there should be as much empirical knowledge gained from scientific research as possible. Since research in this field is very intense and we can weekly note publications of new scientific results, we decided to summarise scientific findings of the last decade in the form of transparent scientific papers, dealing with various areas of this immense problem. Thus, the students of the Master's study programme of Social gerontology present themselves in this monograph with transparent (scientific) papers dealing with various areas of dementia, such as: historical view of the disease, risk factors for the development of dementia, the problem of decline in cognitive abilities with progression of the disease, the quality of life of the patient, communication with the patient, caring for a person with dementia, the influence of physical activity on the development of the disease, the problem of stigmatisation of dementia patients, and other. I believe that the review of the scientific research on dementia is comprehensive, so that the monograph can be used as a textbook for students in the social and health fields of higher education, especially during the second and third levels of education. The monograph will also be useful for professionals who deal with dementia patients, while their relatives will be able to find reliable and scientifically valid information.
With this work, we strive to contribute to the best possible solution to the challenge posed by dementia for today's aging individual and society.
The monograph furthermore contains four transparent scientific papers on physical activity in preventing morbidity and rehabilitation of the elderly after stroke and infarct. I am convinced that these chapters will also receive a positive feedback from the readers.