Get Your FREE subscription today
Current Issues Past Issues Who We Are Resources Get Involved Glossary
 
From the Editor
Editor's Note
 
Memory News
Fatty food weighs down muscles and memory
 
Pumping Neurons: Exercise to maintain a healthy brain
The evidence is growing that moderate regular exercise boosts memory and other brain functions and may help prevent age-related declines.
Go to Article >>
 
How Parkinsonís disease affects the mind

It’s not just a movement disorder. Besides causing tremors and other motion-related symptoms, Parkinson’s disease affects memory, learning, and behavior.

Go to Article >>

 
Creative healing: art therapy for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
As medical science races to cure dementia, storytelling and other creative activities promise a better quality of life for the millions already diagnosed.
Go to Article >>
 
Memory Tip
Medicate Your Memory
Glossary
Dementia
 

Dementia is a broad term that refers to a progressive cognitive decline, especially marked by memory deficit. The symptoms may include memory deficits, impaired abstract thinking, poor judgment, disorientation, depression, agitation and nervousness, and sleep disorders. In the late stages of the disease, patients become dependent on caregivers for the activities of daily living, including eating, dressing and bathing. Dementia itself is not directly fatal, but patients may die of complications associated with immobility or reduced resistance to infectious diseases such as pneumonia.

Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent type of dementia. Dementia may also be caused indirectly by brain tumors, head injury, viral inflammation, substance abuse, syphilis, long-term epilepsy, etc. Dementia is also a component of the late stages of Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and AIDS, and may also appear in individuals who are chronic abusers of alcohol. In some cases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease), symptoms progress gradually over a course of years; in others (e.g. vascular dementia), symptoms appear over a relatively short period of time and may appear to worsen in increments.

Normally, when a patient is diagnosed with dementia, doctors first attempt to establish whether the dementia is associated with some pre-existing disease or condition such as Parkinson's disease or substance abuse, or with some trauma such as head injury or stroke. Other conditions such as depression and sleep disorder can also cause memory deficits and other cognitive problems superficially related to dementia. A diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease is only made after other causes of dementia are ruled out, while a definite diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can only be made at autopsy.



by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain