December 1, 2015
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Dementia (cont.)

What is dementia?

Dementia is often one of the most misunderstood conditions in medicine today. Some people believe that senility or senile dementia is an inevitable result of aging, and never seek evaluation for family members who show signs of memory loss. Others believe that any evidence of forgetfulness is evidence of dementia. Neither of these conclusions is accurate.

Additionally, many questions have been raised about dementia. Does dementia differ from Alzheimer's disease or are all forms of dementia Alzheimer's disease? If someone has memory loss associated with another condition, does that turn into Alzheimer's disease? What can be expected if someone has been diagnosed with dementia?

What causes dementia?

Dementia is a broad term which covers many different conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and other disorders. Simple forgetfulness is not enough to lead to a diagnosis of dementia, as there needs to be evidence of problems in at least two areas of cognition (brain function) to confirm this diagnosis. Possible symptoms or signs of dementia include memory loss, problems with speaking, including difficulty completing sentences or finding the right word to say, difficulty completing tasks, difficulty recognizing items or people, and showing signs of poor judgment. People with dementia may have problems preparing food, performing household chores, or paying bills. They may repeat questions or stories regularly, or forget appointments. They may get lost in familiar environments. Personality changes, including irritability or agitation, may also occur. In some cases, people with dementia develop hallucinations (see things which aren't really there).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/18/2015


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