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More Information on Dementia

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.

While Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, the causes of dementia can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place. Other dementias include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular dementia. It is common for people to have mixed dementia—a combination of two or more disorders, at least one of which is dementia. For example, some people have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Other conditions that may cause memory loss or dementia include:

  • medication side effects
  • chronic alcoholism
  • tumors or infections in the brain
  • blood clots in the brain
  • vitamin B12 deficiency
  • some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders
  • stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sleep disturbances

Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible. They can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.

Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people confused or forgetful. The emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, but if these feelings last for a long time, it is important to get help from a doctor or counselor.

Source:  National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Health www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.

For more information on the Dementia Friendly Movement

Dementia Friendly America - www.dementiafriendlyamerica.org

Dementia Friends - Extensive online training programs: www.dfamerica.org/dementia-friends-usa

Dementia Friendly Massachusetts - www.dfmassachusetts.org
 

For Additional Reading


Dementia Friendly Communications Tips Click here and download a PDF with 10 tips on communicating with people that living with dementia

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Dancing on Quicksand, A Gift of Friendship in the Age of Alzheimer’s by Marilyn Mitchell

The 36 Hour Day, A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias and Memory Loss in Later Life by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins