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What is (and what isn’t) dementia?

Has an older friend or a loved one been having difficulty performing familiar day-to-day tasks? Have you seen a change in his or her behavior, mood, or personality? These could be early signs of dementia.

According to the National Institutes of Health, dementia is not a specific disease, but a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain. These disorders significantly impair thinking, normal activities, and relationships.

There are two types of dementias: reversible and degenerative. Reversible dementias, also called pseudodementias, can be caused by reactions from medications, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, infections, or emotional distress.

Degenerative dementias cannot be reversed. There are several types of degenerative dementias, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common, especially in people 65 and older. If someone is diagnosed with degenerative dementia, it is essential for family and caregivers to seek out the proper medical care and appropriate long-term support.

It’s important to realize that memory loss is often associated with dementia, but it alone does not determine if a person has dementia. The common signs of dementia include:

  • Decreased ability to solve problems
  • Irritability and loss of emotional control
  • Confusion
  • Misplacing objects
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation, delusions, or hallucinations

If two or more of these symptoms are present, it is recommended that the your loved one obtain a medical evaluation.

For more information on the signs of dementia, please visit:

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