Dementia is a condition affecting mental functioning. It creates problems with reasoning and memory and is often associated with old age. In reality, the symptoms of dementia are not the result of old age. In fact, severe memory loss is never a normal part of growing older. Dementia symptoms develop from brain diseases that can become more common as people begin to age. Dementia can be static or it can happen in stages. This will depend upon the underlying disease causing the dementia. In either case, dementia can reduce mental abilities to the point that a person can no longer function normally, socially or at work. If progressive; short-term memory loss is involved in the early stages of dementia, while long-term memory usually remains intact. As the disease progresses, so do the losses in insight, judgment and memory. “Cognitive deficits” is a term used by professionals to talk about losses in mental functioning. Dementia is a major public health problem that impacts millions of people and their families.
There are many conditions that can lend to the development of cognitive deficits. Fortunately, sometimes; like in the cases of depression, infections, drug interactions, or with nutritional disorders, the dementia-like symptoms can go away. If the underlying disease is more serious, then they will not. Other possible causes of cognitive deficits can include, but are not limited to; late stage AIDS, metabolic disorders, brain tumors, and Huntington‟s and Parkinson‟s diseases. But of all the possible reasons why people (especially seniors) develop dementia symptoms, Alzheimer‟s disease and vascular (multi-infarct) dementia head the list.
In Alzheimer‟s disease, the brain develops abnormal plaques and tangles that interfere with the way the brain communicates with itself.
Vascular dementia is different in that symptoms come from ongoing problems with the blood supply to the brain. Alzheimer‟s disease and Vascular dementia can sometimes occur together in the same patient.