Dementia is a general term impaired thinking, remembering or reasoning that can affect a person’s ability to function safely. The term has been replaced by “major neurocognitive disorder” and “mild cognitive disorder” in medical terminology.
Dementia symptoms may be confused with symptoms of depression or other mood disorders
Dementia is not a normal consequence of aging.
The condition has many causes, so patients with signs or symptoms of dementia should get a comprehensive examination to determine the underlying diagnosis.
There are not direct therapies for most types of dementia, but some conditions, such as normal pressure hydrocephalus, can be treatable. For the remainder, drugs may make symptoms more manageable.
Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia may involve a range of progressive symptoms, depending on its cause:
Mood and personality changes
Difficulty with words and language
Confusion regarding familiar places and time, date and season
Inability to concentrate or think clearly
Difficulties with gait or balance
Increased daytime sleepiness
What are the different types of dementia?
Dementia may be caused by several other conditions and diseases, including:
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes memory loss, confusion, and changes in personality. The course is gradual and includes seven stages. At present, Alzheimer’s dementia is not curable, but medications may help manage symptoms.
Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease and is caused by damage to brain tissue due to decreased blood flow. Strokes, mini-strokes (TIAs) and congestive heart failure can be the root causes of these conditions.
This is a rare atypical Parkinsonian disorder that typically affects one side of the body more than the other. Affected patients may have difficulty seeing and navigating through space.
A rare, fatal brain disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes a rapid, progressive dementia (deterioration of mental functions) and associated neuromuscular disturbances.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a group of disorders that occur when the nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are damaged, causing the lobes to shrink.
Huntington’s disease is a brain disorder in which brain cells, or neurons, in certain areas of the brain start to break down, eventually leading to emotional disturbances, loss of intellectual abilities and uncontrolled movements.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Normal pressure hydrocephalus is caused by excessive cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles, which can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Draining the excess fluid may arrest or improve the condition.
Other conditions can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms, including:
Stroke or mini-stroke (TIA)
Congestive heart failure
Reactions to medications
Heart and lung problems
Wellness and Prevention
- Aging Well
- Maintaining a Healthy Mind as You Age
- Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know as You Age
- Can a Nap Boost Brain Health?
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- Does Higher Learning Combat Dementia?
- Keep Your Brain Young with Music
- How to Relieve Stress: A 6-Step Plan to Feeling Good
- Hidden Brain Risk: Midlife High Blood Pressure
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- Memory: 5 Ways to Protect Your Brain Health
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