Dementia is not a specific disease but a general description of a collection of symptoms that occurs when the parts of the brain are affected by injury or disease which results in mental decline that is severe enough to interfere with a person's daily life.
Dementia is the general term used to describe significant impairment of two or more mental functions, such as thinking, memory, reasoning, speaking, or moving.
When there is a signficant decline in mental function in the elderly, it can be caused by a number of factors. Although Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, there are many other causes of mental decline as well.
Dementia can also be due to reversible causes such as medication reactions, thyroid disease, depression, infections, certain vitamin deficiencies, fluid and electrolyte disorders, tumors and blood clots in the brain and other metabolic diseases.
Dementia can also occur as a result of:
- Stroke (second most common cause) The gradual but progressive nature of
Alzheimer's is dramatically different than the second most common cause
of dementia, stroke or multi-infarct dementia.
In this type of dementia, a series of
small strokes or changes in the brain's blood supply may result in the
death of brain tissue. The location in the brain where the small strokes
occur determines the seriousness of the problem and the resultant
symptoms. Sudden onset of dementia-like symptoms,
versus the gradual onset of Alzheimer's symptoms, is characteristic of
this kind of dementia. In this case the patient is likely to show
signs of improvement or remain stable for long periods of time, then
quickly develop new symptoms if more strokes occur.
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's Disease
- Pick's Disease, Huntington's Disease
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure