Dementia is a descriptive term for an assortment of symptoms that can be caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease itself and until an underlying disease or disorder has been identified it is not a clinical diagnosis. Dementia is a brain disorder that impairs the intellectual functioning of the brain and makes it hard for people to remember, learn, solve problems or communicate. It interferes with normal activates and relationships and those with dementia may experience personality changes or behavior problems, such as depression, agitation or other disruptive behavior.
It is not a normal part of aging, but the chances of developing dementia do increase with age. Mild cognitive impairments, such as poorer short-term memory, can develop as a normal part of aging. This is known as age-related cognitive decline, not dementia because it does not cause the person or the people around them any difficulties. Dementia can be clinically diagnosed when two or more types of symptoms are severe enough to affect an individual’s daily activities.
Symptoms classed as mild cognitive impairment, which are not a normal part of aging, do not qualify as dementia either since these symptoms are not severe enough to interfere with daily activities. However, for some people, the milder disease can lead to dementia later on.
Currently, there are more than 50 conditions that mimic or cause the symptoms of dementia and research shows that these conditions account for over 20% of “dementia” cases. Many of these conditions are reversible if they are treated before permanent damage occurs. Getting the right diagnosis and reporting any early signs to your doctor is important to ensure the proper treatment of dementia or any condition with dementia like symptoms.
If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s & dementia in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, please read on or schedule an appointment today.