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Dementia: Introduction

Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition of the brain in which there is a progressive and permanent loss of cognitive and mental performance. This includes loss of memory and impairment of brain function in such areas as language, intellect, judgement, and behavior. Dementia is common in the elderly and is a very common cause of disability, institutionalization, and death in this population.

Dementia can be caused by a wide variety of conditions or diseases. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which progressively damages and destroys such cognitive processes as memory, orientation, and speech. The second most common cause of dementia is vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is due to the death (necrosis) of brain tissue because of clots that obstruct blood vessels in the brain. Vascular dementia is caused by such diseases and conditions as TIA (transient ischemic attack) or stroke or risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, and diabetes. Less common causes of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, thyroid diseases, brain tumor, vitamin B deficiency, AIDS, syphilis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, alcoholism, hydrocephalus, depression, and chronic subdural hematoma. Symptoms of dementia vary depending on severity, underlying cause, age, medical history, and coexisting diseases, and other factors. Symptoms can include forgetfulness and other problems with memory that become progressively worse. Disorientation, poor judgement, speech difficulties, personality changes, and difficulty completing familiar tasks also occur. Symptoms of dementia can eventually progress to become severely disabling. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of dementia. Risk factors for developing dementia include being over age 65 and having a family history of Alzheimer's disease. Other risk factors include a history of severe head injury, alcoholism, and having diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other types of coronary artery disease or cardiovascular disease. There is no specific diagnostic test that can detect dementia and its underlying cause. Making a diagnosis includes performing a variety of tests and assessments that evaluate the brain, as well as cognitive and intellectual function. Tests are also performed to diagnose possible underlying causes of dementia. Diagnosis and treatment may require the collaboration of a variety of providers, including a primary care physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, and/or psychologist. The diagnostic process begins with taking a thorough personal and family history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes a neurological exam. A neurological exam evaluates the nerves and nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing. Commonly used diagnostic tests include a mini-mental state examination (MMSE), which evaluates mental function by assessing the answers provided to a series of questions. Imaging tests that may be used to help diagnose underlying causes of dementia include CT and MRI, which provide information about the structure of the brain. A PET scan and functional MRI are imaging tests that can show how well different areas of the brain are functioning. It is possible that a diagnosis of dementia can be missed or delayed because symptoms may develop gradually and can be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. In addition, it is common for people to believe that symptoms of dementia are due to the normal aging process. For more information about diseases and conditions that can mimic dementia, refer to misdiagnosis of dementia. Treatment of dementia varies depending on the underlying cause and other factors. Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia are not curable, and at this time there are no treatments that can slow the advancement of these common causes of dementia. However, there are some interventions and medications that may help to reduce some symptoms and maximize independence and the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease. There are also clinical trials taking place to research a variety of potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of dementia. ...more »

Dementia: Dementia is characterized significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational ... more about Dementia.

Dementia: Various mental impairment conditions. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Dementia is available below.

Dementia: Symptoms

The symptoms of dementia generally develop gradually and progressively get worse over time. However, symptoms and progression of dementia vary depending on the severity, underlying cause, age, medical history, coexisting diseases, and other factors. The hallmark symptoms of dementia are problems with memory and other cognitive functions. Symptoms include ...more symptoms »

Dementia: Treatments

Treatment of dementia begins with the prevention of avoidable causes of dementia, such as alcoholism, vitamin B deficiency, type ll diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. This includes not smoking, not drinking alcohol to excess, and eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and processed carbohydrates and high in unprocessed ...more treatments »

Dementia: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of dementia may be delayed or missed because early symptoms develop gradually and are often associated with the normal aging process. In addition, symptoms of dementia can mimic symptoms of a variety of diseases, disorders or conditions, such as depression, TIA, stroke, psychosis, and delirium, which can all accompany dementia or can be distinct and separate diagnoses ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Dementia

Treatments for Dementia

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Dementia:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Dementia?

Dementia: Related Patient Stories

Dementia: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Dementia.

Alternative Treatments for Dementia

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Dementia may include:

Types of Dementia

Curable Types of Dementia

Possibly curable types of Dementia include:

  • Dementia due to hypothyroidism
  • Dementia due to cardiovascular disease
  • Dementia due to B1 deficiency
  • Dementia due to folate deficiency
  • Dementia due to hypoglycaemia
  • Dementia due to hypercalcemia
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Dementia:

Rare types of Dementia include:

Dementia: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Dementia:

Causes of Dementia

More information about causes of Dementia:

Disease Topics Related To Dementia

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Dementia:

Dementia: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Dementia

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered more »

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due more »

Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease. The more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, more »

ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. This is particularly true of more »

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild symptoms in the early years, more »

Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians. Many patients with bipolar seek help from more »

Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to more »

Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe more »

Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed. It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease or dementia ( more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return. A variety of symptoms can more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in more »

Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of more »

Dementia: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Dementia

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Dementia:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Dementia, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Dementia: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Dementia

Dementia: Animations

Prognosis for Dementia

Research about Dementia

Visit our research pages for current research about Dementia treatments.

Clinical Trials for Dementia

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Dementia include:

Statistics for Dementia

Dementia: Broader Related Topics

Dementia Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Dementia, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Dementia

Aging -- Women Getting Older: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Dementia is characterized significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people. (Source: excerpt from Aging -- Women Getting Older: NWHIC)

Clinical Trials Alzheimer''s Disease and Related Disorders: NIMH (Excerpt)

People who have serious changes in their memory, personality, and behavior may suffer from a form of brain disease called dementia. Dementia seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer's disease is one of many types of dementia. (Source: excerpt from Clinical Trials Alzheimer''s Disease and Related Disorders: NIMH)

Definitions of Dementia:

Brain damage which has persisted over a long period of time. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Mental deterioration of organic or functional origin - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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