"Dementia" is a term used to characterise a decline in cognitive functions (i.e. memory, language, visuospatial ability) to a degree that significant social and occupational impairment is present. This definition of dementia has some particularities:
It is strictly descriptive, hence it does not provide any explanation for the underlying causes of cognitive decline.
Its main criterion is the patient's ability to function in everyday life.
Although the "functional status" criterion is rather conventional, it is nevertheless useful. This is because the inability to perform adequately in daily life always points to a significant degree of cognitive impairment and is therefore suggestive of underlying pathology. In addition, it is useful for distinguishing between normal age-related cognitive decline and various dementia syndromes (which present primarily in old age).
Indeed, normal aging does not lead to serious cognitive impairment. Seniors who are not able to carry out routine activities are most likely affected by some form of dementia.
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Along with vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia and Frontotemporal dementias, they constitute more than 90% of all cases. These 4 forms of dementia are non-reversible, insidious in onset and steadily deteriorating over years. Although there is significant overlap in their symptoms, each has its own set of distinctive features. The etiology of the remaining causes of dementia includes dozens of nosological entities. A significant proportion of these can be treated effectively, leading to partial or complete restoration of cognitive functions.
In this section you can find articles related to memory, cognition and various dementing syndromes.