What is dementia?

Dementia is the name given to a number of conditions that affect how the brain works. Dementia mainly causes problems with memory, thinking, day-to-day function and behavior. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is a complex of symptoms that can cause a loss of memory, and difficulty in planning and organizing.

Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in problems with memory, thinking and behavior and becomes severe enough to interfere with a person's ability to work and to take care of everyday tasks such as bathing, cooking, dressing and grooming. Dementia is not a normal part of aging.

Dementia is an overall term that refers to a category of degenerative brain diseases that affect important brain functions, causing:

  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Personality and behavior changes

Alzheimer’s disease is the most well-known and prevalent type of dementia, but there are several others.

Dr. Eric Pfeiffer
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

Dementia is defined as any memory disorder due to the loss of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the causes of dementia. Other causes of dementia may include a major stroke, or multiple smaller strokes, traumatic brain injuries, chronic alcoholism or encephalitis. Dementia can also occur in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease or as the result of Lewy Body disease, a variant of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Art of Caregiving in Alzheimer's Disease

More About this Book

The Art of Caregiving in Alzheimer's Disease

This is an A to Z Guide to the caregiving experience in Alzheimer's disease. It is easy to read, easy to follow. It is authorative, based on thirty years of experieReconce in caring for Alzheimer's...
Dr. Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine Specialist

Dementia is a brain disease in which a person will lose their ability for certain components of their memory and abilities to perform their usual activities of daily living.

Dr. Nicholas D Suite

Dementia is a decline in memory function. There are different types. The one which is most discussed in the popular media is Alzheimer dementia. This may have a genetic basis in some individuals. In others, the dementia may arise spontaneously. Studies also raise the possibility that certain environmental toxins may play a role, while others may actually be protective. Prevention is the goal with any disease process, and many neuroscientists feel that genetic studies will eventually reveal a ‘switch’ for dementia that will ultimately be able to be turned off, thereby preventing it. At the moment however, we are focused on recommending healthy diets and lifestyles, treatment with medication, and maintaining brain activity as a means to manage dementia.

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that includes the loss of memory and other cognitive skills, including reasoning, speech and control of motor function. It is not a normal part of the aging process, but as we grow older our chances of developing some form of dementia increase.

Dr. Stephen T. Chen, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Dementia is an impairment in memory or other cognitive functions, as well as everyday functioning. People with dementia may be disoriented and have problems choosing words or finding their way to a location. Functional impairment means they have difficulty performing daily activities, such as managing finances, driving or running errands.

Continue Learning about Dementia

Why Dementia Gets Worse at Night—and How to Stop It
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Binswanger's disease (BD), also called subcortical vascular dementia, is a type of dementia characte...
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What is early onset dementia?
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Early-onset dementia is when the disease begins before age 65. The cause may be Alzheimer's disease,...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.