February 18, 2013 @ 8:42 PM

Dementia is a health problem which particularly (but not exclusively) strikes the older adult population and, because of the “greying of America” that’s been going on, will only increase in prevalence over the coming years. Increasing age, of course, is a major risk factor for developing dementia.

The basic definition of dementia includes:

1) The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both:

a) Memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information); and

b) One (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances:

i) Aphasia (language disturbance),

ii) Apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function),

iii) Agnosia  (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function), or

iv) Disturbance in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing, abstracting).

2) The above cognitive deficits need to produce “significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.” Which means that if the person has cognitive deficits as specified above, but seems to function well in their daily life, then they don’t have dementia and may instead have something milder, say, mild cognitive impairment.

So what about Alzheimer’s Disease? One of the common misconceptions we run into when talking to people about what we do is that “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are synonymous. Alzheimer’s Disease, of course, is only one of many different dementia subtypes – dementia is an umbrella category of which Alzheimer’s disease falls under. There are many other dementias, such as vascular (stroke) dementia, Lewy Body dementia, dementia due to alcohol, Frontotemporal dementia, etc. 

For more information on dementia and Alzheimer's disease, please check out the following link: