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Definition of Dementia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dementia: Significant loss of intellectual abilities, such as memory capacity, that is severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. Criteria for the diagnosis of dementia include impairment of attention, orientation, memory, judgment, language, motor and spatial skills, and function. By definition, dementia is not due to major depression or schizophrenia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Other causes include AIDS, alcoholism, brain injury, vascular dementia (damage to the blood vessels leading to the brain), dementia with Lewy bodies, brain tumors, drug toxicity, infection of brain, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, meningitis, Pick disease, syphilis, and hypothyroidism.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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