Dementia is marked decline in brain function that affects memory, thought processes and speech. Alzheimer's disease is a major cause, but many other different factors can cause permanent or reversible dementia. Dementia should be distinguished from the benign age-related forgetfulness many experience, which only superficially affects daily life. Mild cognitive impairment is a memory-loss state more significant than age-related senescence describe above, but less severe than Alzheimer's.
Dementia is the loss of reasoning, memory, and other mental abilities. Dementia may be caused by irreversible causes such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's dementia, lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia. There are also treatable causes of dementia such as infections, head injury, normal hydrocephalus, and metabolic and hormonal disorders. Early symptoms of dementia include:
- Forgetting appointments and names, and loosing things
- Difficulties performing familiar tasks (driving, cooking, household chores)
- Personality changes
- Mood swings
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
A variety of tests (blood tests, scans, assessment of family history) may be used to diagnose dementia. Treatment may include medication and behavioral therapy.