Dementia - Experience

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What Is Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain. People with dementia have significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships. They also lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, and they may experience personality changes and behavioral problems such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations. While memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, memory loss by itself does not mean that a person has dementia. Doctors diagnose dementia only if two or more brain functions - such as memory, language skills, perception, or cognitive skills including reasoning and judgment - are significantly impaired without loss of consciousness.

There are many disorders that can cause dementia. Some, such as AD, lead to a progressive loss of mental functions. But other types of dementia can be halted or reversed with appropriate treatment.

With AD and many other types of dementia, disease processes cause many nerve cells to stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die. In contrast, normal aging does not result in the loss of large numbers of neurons in the brain.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Barb152, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: February 07

My mother has Lewy dementia. She falls asleep a lot. She thinks girls are in her bedroom. She talks about children constantly and is obsessed with one of my sisters. She can talk for hours about her. She will not admit she has that disease. She thinks those people will steal from her if she lets them in her house. She eats very little. She sometimes seems very normal but easily confused other times. She doesn't understand about money, lives alone most of the time. She calls people on phone several times a day. She doesn't bathe enough; I could go on and on. It is so difficult.

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Comment from: Daughter, 75 or over Male (Caregiver) Published: March 06

My father began showing symptoms of dementia 11 months ago. There was a big change in his personality. He always tended to be a very outgoing fun loving guy. He became very mean, looking for arguments, etc. Shortly after we noticed the big change in personality, he suffered a major stroke. Physically he recovered well however mentally we were concerned. He became very paranoid, suffered from hallucinations and stopped sleeping, resulting in a 6 week hospital stay. Dad was prescribed anti-depressants along with psychotic medications. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia. He is home now and things are going well, he just needs prompting to shower, personal hygiene, etc. I have noticed that all of a sudden dad seems to be sleeping a lot.

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