The Definition of Dementia - What Does It Mean?

The definition of dementia is fairly simple. Dementia is a group of diseases that cause a permanent decline of person's ability to think, reason and manage his own life. Dementia is caused by biological processes within the brain that damage brain cells.

Diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body disease or vacular dementia that are classified as dementias have several factors in common.

They cause a person
to have impaired memory, forgetfulness and an inability to retain new information.
to lose the ability to speak and be understood by others and the ability to understand written or spoken language.
to lose the ability to plan, make good judgements and carry out multi-step tasks.
to lose the ability to process and understand visual information.

These losses mean that a person with dementia cannot manage his own day-to-day and personal care.

The implications for a person with this diagnosis and her family can be staggering.

Dementia is an umbrella term like cancer. We know when we hear that someone is diagnosed with cancer that there is more to the story. We know to ask which organs or parts of the body are affected.

When you hear a diagnosis of dementia there is more to the story too. As a patient, as a family member you need to zero in on what type of dementia you are dealing with. Each disease under the umbrella has a different course of illness, different symptoms and different challenges. The drug treatments and interventions may be different as well.

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