What Is Dementia?
It is common to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s as synonyms, however this is not accurate. Alzheimer’s, which affects thought memory and language, refers to a specific disease that is a form of dementia (the most common form, in fact). Dementia, not being a specific disease, rather an umbrella term, is broader than Alzheimer’s and there may be other reasons for patients having dementia: head injuries, strokes and tumors to name a few.
The word itself comes from the Latin words de mentis, which translates to: out of mind. Dementia was first coined in 1801 by Phillippe Pinel, and has since then found its way into everyday speech. When talking of the dementia in a medical setting, the meaning is more specific and refers to the brain’s inability to function normally. Dementia occurs when a patient’s intellectual capacity is no longer sufficient to handle daily tasks and social life.
The symptoms of Dementia
The symptoms can vary but it will affect two or more core cognitive abilities.h These will include memory, communication and ability to use language, reasoning and judgment, visual perception, focusing and attention span. If that sounds like Alzheimer’s, bear in mind that Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
And similar to Alzheimer’s, the likelihood of Dementia increases with age, although age is not a cause of the symptoms.
Signs of Dementia
Dementia is a term that refers to symptoms linked to the brain’s decline in areas such as memory, language, and judgment. Thus the signs of dementia are linked to cognitive function (although mood changes are also a symptom). Signs of dementia include: difficulty remembering, speaking, reasoning, focusing, becoming confused, and behaviour changes such as becoming repetitive, apathetic, mood swings. According to some sources, failing visual perception is also a symptom.
These are symptoms but they are not conclusive. One of the symptoms on its own is insufficient for a finding of dementia. One needs to have at least two of the listed impairments in cognition, and they would have to be serious enough to compromise day to day life, for a diagnosis of Dementia.