Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.

Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as "senility" or "senile dementia," which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging.

Symptoms of Dementia

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood. Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse.

About us & Dementia

If cognitive impairment is suspected, a full dementia evaluation is performed to identify causes for decline or determine a specific diagnosis.

Our diagnostic workup will include

  • Medical history
  • Clinical examination
  • Assessment of multiple cognitive domains
  • Lab tests (if necessary)
  • MRI and/or CT scan, in some cases

Chief goals of treatment are

  • Maintain quality of life
  • Maximize function in daily activities
  • Enhance cognition, mood and behavior
  • Foster a safe environment
  • Promote social engagement, as appropriate

Key elements of a strategy to maximize dementia outcomes include regular monitoring of patient's health and cognition, education and support to patients and their families.