- Dementia is not a specific disease itself.
- It is an overall term used to describe the symptoms and the effects of symptoms that happen because of certain types of diseases or medical conditions.
- Dementia happens when areas of the brain that are involved in functions such as learning, memory, language, and making decisions are affected by a disease, an infection, or some type of medical condition.
- The results of these conditions significantly interfere with the person's ability to function.
- Alzheimer's disease is a form or type of dementia.
- People that develop dementia may have difficulty with:
- Learning new information or recalling (remembering) information.
- Problems with attention and concentration.
- Expressing themselves verbally.
- Understanding spoken or written language.
- Making decisions.
- Understanding how objects in the environment are related to one another.
- Orientation such as not being able to remember the month, year, or where they are.
- Emotional functioning such as having issues with severe depression or anxiety.
- The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there are many other known causes of dementia. Other relatively common forms of dementia are Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Mixed dementias, reversible types of dementia.
- Other types of dementia account for a very small proportion of all types of dementia. These conditions include the dementia associated with HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and many other conditions.
For more information on Dementia and its Causes
- Alzheimer's Disease is the most frequent cause of dementia and is not a normal part of aging or "just what happens when we get old."
- There are several differences between normal aging and Alzheimer's Disease:
- Memory Changes - Changes in memory are the main features that happen in people with Alzheimer's disease.
- Language Abilities - In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, people may develop problems with language comprehension. This means that they have trouble understanding spoken words and sentences. This often first appears as difficulty following instructions from others.
- Problem Solving - Another area that is severely affected in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease is the person's ability to solve problems and make decisions. At first, the person may have trouble solving problems such as calculating how much they owe at the grocery store or paying their bills. Later, even simple decisions such as how to open a can of soup can become an issue.
- Self-care and Other Areas: As the disease continues to get worse the mental changes that happen in the person may cause them to have issues caring for themselves. This might include remembering to bathe, how to dress themselves, and take care of their basic needs. Other mental abilities can also be affected.
- The organization, Alzheimer's Disease International, suggests that overall Alzheimer's disease accounts for 70%-75% of all dementia cases.
- In industrialized nations the diagnosis of dementia ranges from between 5% - 10% in individuals in their 70s. This risk increases significantly as people age with most sources reporting a sharp increase for every decade after the age of 65.
- Researchers report that the development of any form of dementia is due to the interaction of many factors. Thus, as a person gets older there must be other factors that interact with the aging process that result in an increase in the chance to develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
For more information on Alzheimer's Diease
For more information on causes
For more information on diagnostic criteria
For more information on warning signs
For more information on how it is diagnosed
For more information on how it is treated