Dementia: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term to describe symptoms such as impairments to memory, communication and thinking. Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgement or language, and the inability to perform some daily activities such as paying bills or driving. There are various types of dementia like cortical, sub-cortical, progressive, primary and secondary dementia.

Recovery Time

  • Depending on the cause of dementia, the recovery time varies.
  • If the cause is any untreatable medical condition then it persists lifelong.


  • Cognitive and neuropsychological tests
  • MRI and CT-scan of brain
  • Blood tests
  • Neurological evaluation

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  How is Alzheimers different from dementia?
Alzheimers disease is one common form of dementia in the elderly, possibly accounting for up to 70% of dementia in the elderly. Alzheimers disease can be distinguished from other dementias based on the fact that it is a relatively slow onset and progressive disease that affects multiple aspects of cognitive performance including memory, language, and personality. Also, it is important that these changes often occur in the absence of significant impairments in regulating basic body functions and the ability to walk.
Slowly progressive decline in memory and orientation, normal results on laboratory tests, and an MRI or CT scan showing only distributed or posteriorly predominant cortical and hippocampal atrophy is highly suggestive of AD.

Q2.  How is dementia treated?
With a goal of controlling symptoms, treatment may include hospitalization for a short time. Disorders that contribute to confusion should be treated, including heart failure, decreased oxygen intake, thyroid disorders, anemia, malnutrition, infections and psychiatric conditions. Correction of coexisting medical and psychiatric disorders often greatly improves mental functioning.

Q3.  My doctor does not prescribe drugs for my dementia, how good is he in his approach?
Nondrug behavior therapy has an important place in dementia management.
Preparing lists, schedules, calendars, and labels can be helpful in the early stages. It is also useful to stress familiar routines, short-term tasks, walks, and simple physical exercises.
For many demented patients, memory for events is worse than for routine activities, and they may still be able to take part in physical activities such as walking, bowling, dancing, and golf.
Attempts to help or take over may be greeted with complaints, depression, or anger.
Hostile responses on the part of the caretaker are useless and sometimes harmful.
Explanation, reassurance, distraction, and calm positive statements are more productive in this setting. Eventually, tasks such as finances and driving must be assumed by others, and the patient will conform and adjust.
Safety is an important issue that includes not only driving but controlling the kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area environments, as well as stairways. These areas need to be monitored, supervised, and made as safe as possible.

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