What Is Dementia? - dummies

By Simon Atkins

Part of Dementia For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Contrary to what many people think, dementia is not a single disease in itself, but the medical term used to describe the progressive and irreversible effects that a number of different diseases have on a person’s brain and the way in which it functions.

Dementia affects both men and women and becomes more common with advancing age, although 2 percent of people who develop dementia are under the age of 65.

The symptoms affect three main areas of people’s lives:

  • Thought processes, such as memory, language, and ability to plan

  • Emotions, leading to changes such as irritability and aggression in some people, withdrawal and lack of speech in others, and maybe sexual disinhibition and depression

  • The ability to carry out the normal activities of daily life, from driving and holding down a job in the early stages, to washing, dressing, and even feeding themselves as the condition becomes worse

So just having a few senior moments and becoming a bit more forgetful doesn’t mean that someone has dementia; he may just be becoming older and more forgetful. For a doctor to make the diagnosis, a person needs to have problems in each of the three areas.