According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health, dementia is a condition "characterized by a progressive, irreversible decline in mental ability, accompanied by changes in behaviors and personality." Most commonly, individuals with dementia lose both memory and skills, making it difficult for them to carry out daily activities.
Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms caused by the gradual death of brain cells. Dementia can occur across any age group but is most diagnosed among the elderly. However, dementia is not an inevitable process of aging. Other conditions, like Alzheimer's Disease, are specific types of dementia.
Statistics from the Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health.
There are three most common types of dementia. Causes and symptoms of the disease can vary according to the type of dementia:
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of dementia types.
Dementia is a slowly progressing disease and can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages. First, signs of memory loss can signal to either family, caregivers, or healthcare professionals that dementia is possible. Next, the healthcare professional will conduct a medical exam and examine family history. They may also give simple mental function tests. The healthcare professional will also review all medications, as some medicines can cause reversible dementia. When other conditions are ruled out, a healthcare professional will then diagnose dementia.