- Many people mistakenly use dementia as a synonym for Alzheimer\'s Disease.
- "Dementia" is an umbrella-like term that refers to any brain syndrome that causes multiple cognitive deficits without specifying the cause for the symptoms.
- A person with dementia can experience all sorts of problems, including: 1) Impaired Memory (especially the ability to remember recent events and newly learned facts) 2) Impaired Language Skills (decreased ability to communicate to others and understand what is being communicated) 3) Impaired Orientation (not knowing who one is, where one is, and/or what time it is) 4) Impaired Judgment (the ability to make decisions regarding personal, interpersonal, financial, and/or medical affairs) 5) Impaired Executive Functioning (the ability to plan and carry out daily tasks and make decisions).
- Dementia can be caused by one medical condition or by multiple medical problems. Most dementias are caused by one of the following: 1) Alzheimer's Disease, which accounts for 50-70% of all dementia cases 2) Vascular Disease, which accounts for 15-20% of all dementia cases and includes strokes (disruptions in the blood supply to the brain) and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, or mini strokes) and 3) Lewy Body Disease, which accounts for up to 20% of all dementia cases.
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:
- Forgetfulness - People aging normally might forget part of an experience (I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday). People with Alzheimer's Disease will forget the entire experience (I can't remember yesterday morning at all).
- Remembering - People aging normally may forget something (such as a movie recommendation for a friend), but they will eventually recall the desired information (e.g., later in the evening or the next day). People with Alzheimer's will not recall the information at a later time.
- Comprehension - People aging normally can usually follow verbal or written instructions with no problem (e.g., filling out a sweepstakes entry or following a recipe). People with Alzheimer's Disease become less and less able to follow instructions (or multiple step directions) as the disease progresses.
- Memory Aids - People aging normally will usually benefit from using notes and other reminders (e.g., a grocery list). People with Alzheimer's gradually become less able to benefit from memory aids (e.g., they will forget that they have a list, or forget how to use the list).
- Self-Care - People aging normally may be stiff or have some aches and pains, but they can still complete personal care tasks (e.g., bathing, dressing, styling hair, going to the bathroom, etc.). People with Alzheimer's lose the ability to perform these kinds of tasks because they cannot remember the steps involved, and eventually, they won't remember when these tasks are appropriate.
- According to a 2008 national study, 9.7% of individuals age 71 and over in the United States - or 2.4 million people - have the disorder.
- When you include people of all ages, over 5 million individuals in the United States currently have Alzheimer's Disease.
- The risk of developing AD increases dramatically with age; almost 50% of individuals over 85 are coping with this disorder.
- Estimates suggest that if a cure or an effective prevention strategy for Alzheimer's is not found by the year 2050, anywhere between 11 and 16 million people age 65 and older will be affected.
For more information on Alzheimer's Diease
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For more information on how it is diagnosed
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