What Is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, Prevention, and Diagnosis

Dementia is a term used to define a group of symptoms impacting memory, thinking, and social abilities harshly enough to interfere with your daily life. It isn’t a typical disease, but several diseases can cause dementia.

Though dementia typically concerns memory loss, memory loss has different causes. Having memory loss independently doesn’t mean you have dementia, although it’s often one of the earlier signs of the illness.

Dementia is the loss of mental functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such a capacity that it interferes with a person’s daily life and movements. Some people with dementia cannot handle their emotions, and their personalities may alter. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of developed dementia in older adults, but there are a number of other reasons for dementia. Counting on the cause, some dementia symptoms might be reversible

Dementia may affect:

  • memory
  • thinking
  • language
  • judgment
  • behaviour

Dementia may be caused by a type of illness or injury. Mental impairment may vary from mild to severe. It may also cause personality transformations.

Some kinds of dementia are progressive. This means they get more threatening over time. Some kinds are treatable or even reversible. Some specialists restrict the term “dementia” to irreversible mental degeneration.

What are the signs and symptoms of dementia?

Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthful neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose linkages with other brain cells and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, individuals with dementia experience far more prominent loss.

Symptoms of dementia rely on the type of person has, but they generally include:

  • memory issues
  • asking the exact question repeatedly
  • difficulty determination or understanding words
  • feeling confused in an unknown environment
  • Issues dealing with money and numbers
  • anxiety and escape
  • A problem in planning and carrying out assignments
  • mood shifts
  • personality and behavioural differences
  • sleep disorders
  • Losing interest in hobbies or movements
  • The confused feeling of direction
  • Changes in social awareness, such as making unsuitable jokes
  • obsessive preferences
  • Hallucinating or undergoing delusions or paranoia
  • Hardship with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
  • Problem reasoning or problem-solving
  • Hardship in handling complex tasks

What causes dementia?

Dementia is caused by injury to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Depending on the location of the brain that’s damaged, dementia can affect people differently and cause additional symptoms.

Dementias are usually grouped by what they have in common, such as the protein or proteins deposited in the brain or the part of the brain that’s impacted. Some conditions look like dementias, such as those caused by a response to medications or vitamin deficiencies, and they might enhance with treatment.

Progressive dementias

Types of dementias that progress and exist reversible include:

Alzheimer’s disease. 

This is the most typical cause of dementia.

Although not all reasons for Alzheimer’s disease are known, Professionals do know that a small percentage are connected to mutations of three genes, which can be handed down from parent to child. While several genes are likely involved in Alzheimer’s disease, one essential gene that increases risk is apolipoprotein E4 (APOE).

Alzheimer’s disease patients have plaques and knots in their brains. Plaques are chunks of a protein called beta-amyloid, and tangles are fibrous traps made up of tau protein. It’s thought that these clumps damage healthful neurons and the fibres joining them.

Vascular dementia.

This type of dementia is caused by harm to the vessels that supply blood to your brain. Blood vessel problems can cause strokes or influence the brain in other ways, such as by harming the fibres in the white matter of the brain.

The most common signs of vascular dementia include problems with problem-solving, delayed thinking, and loss of focus and organization. This supervision is more noticeable than memory loss.

Lewy body dementia. 

Lewy bodies are abnormal balloonlike clusters of protein that have been discovered in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s illness. This is one of the more typical types of progressive dementia.

Typical signs and symptoms include acting out one’s dreams in sleep, seeing things that aren’t there (visual hallucinations), and issues with focus and attention. Other signs include awkward or slow movement, tremors, and rigidity (parkinsonism).

Frontotemporal dementia. 

This is a group of illnesses characterized by the breakdown of nerve cells and their connections in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These are the areas typically associated with personality, behaviour and language. Typical symptoms impact behaviour, personality, thinking, decision, and language and movement.

Mixed dementia. 

Autopsy analyses of the brains of people 80 and older who had dementia demonstrate that many had a combination of several reasons, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. Analyses are ongoing to specify how having mixed dementia affects symptoms and treatments.

Other disorders linked to dementia

Huntington’s disease. 

Provoked by a genetic mutation, this illness causes certain nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord to waste away. Signs and symptoms, including an extreme decline in thinking (cognitive) skills, usually occur around age 30 or 40.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

This disease is most often caused by repetitive head trauma. Boxers, football players, or soldiers might acquire TBI.

Depending on the part of the brain that’s injured, this disease can cause dementia signs and symptoms such as depression, explosiveness, memory loss, and degraded speech. TBI may also cause parkinsonism. Symptoms might not arise until years after the trauma.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. 

This irregular brain disorder usually appears in people without known risk factors. This situation might be due to sediments of infectious proteins called prions. Signs and symptoms of this fatal illness usually appear after age 60.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s illness usually has no known reason but can be inherited. It may also be induced by exposure to diseased brain or nervous system tissue, such as from a cornea transplant.

Parkinson’s disease. 

Many people with Parkinson’s disease finally produce dementia symptoms (Parkinson’s disease dementia).

Dementia-like conditions that can be reversed

Some reasons for dementia or dementia-like symptoms can be reversed with treatment. They include:

Infections and immune disorders. 

Dementia-like symptoms can result from fever or other side effects of your body’s endeavour to fight off an infection. Numerous sclerosis and other situations caused by the body’s immune system striking nerve cells also can cause dementia.

Metabolic issues and endocrine abnormalities. 

People with thyroid issues, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), too little or too much sodium or calcium, or issues absorbing vitamin B-12 can originate dementia-like symptoms or other personality changes.

Nutritional deficiencies. Not consuming enough liquids (dehydration); not gaining enough thiamin (vitamin B-1), which is ordinary in people with chronic alcoholism; and not acquiring enough vitamins B-6 and B-12 in your diet can provoke dementia-like symptoms. Copper and vitamin E deficiencies also can provoke dementia symptoms.

Medication side effects. 

Side effects of medicines, a response to a medication or an interaction of several drugs can cause dementia-like symptoms.

Subdural hematomas. 

Bleeding between the surface of the human brain and the covering over the brain, which is typical in the elder after a fall, can cause symptoms similar to those of dementia.

Brain tumours. 

Rarely, dementia can result from damage provoked by a brain tumour.

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus. 

This illness, which is provoked by enlarged ventricles in the brain, can result in walking problems, urinary difficulty, and memory loss.

Dementia stages

The World Health Organization (WHO) divides dementia into approximately three stages: early, middle, and late. The passages below will look at individually of these in more detail.


At this stage, it may not appear that the individual has dementia. They may:

  • become more oblivious
  • Renounce track of time
  • feel misplaced in familiar locations

Middle stage

At this stage, the symptoms become more perceptible and include:

  • forgetting names and contemporary events
  • Sense lost when at home
  • Difficulty in communicating
  • behavioural transformations
  • Constantly asking questions
  • needing help with individuals are


At this stage, a person needs full-time service, as the influence of the symptoms typically becomes more severe. The person may:

  • be clueless about where they are
  • be unknowing of the time
  • have tribulation recognizing loved ones
  • Discover it hard to walk
  • experience behavioural transformations, which may include aggression

Types of dementia

Most cases of dementia are a symptom of a specific illness. Different illnesses cause various types of dementia. The most familiar types of dementia include:

Alzheimer’s disease. 

The most typical type of dementia, Alzheimer’s illness makes up 60 to 80 per cent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Vascular dementia. 

This type of dementia is provoked by reduced blood flow in the brain. It may be the consequence of plaque buildup in arteries that feed blood to the brain or a stroke.

Lewy body dementia. 

With Lewy body dementia, protein sediments in nerve cells stop the brain from sending chemical signals. This results in lost messages, slowed reactions, and memory loss.

Parkinson’s disease. 

People with advanced Parkinson’s illness may develop dementia. Symptoms of this respective type of dementia include difficulties with reasoning and judgment, as well as increased irritability, paranoia, and depression.

Frontotemporal dementia. 

Several kinds of dementia fall into this classification. They’re each affected by transformations in the front and side parts of the brain. Symptoms contain difficulty with language and behaviour, as well as loss of inhibitions.

Mixed dementia

When this occurs, a person has a diagnosis of two or three types together. For example, a person may have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia at the same time.

Dementia tests

Examination usually involves a number of queries and tasks. The following passages will explore these in more detail.

Cognitive dementia tests

Professionals established the dementia tests that doctors nowadays use in the 1970s. A doctor may ask queries such as:

  • What is your age?
  • What is the time, to the closest hour?
  • What is your address?
  • What is the year?
  • What is your date of birth?

The physician may also accept into account observations by family associates and caregivers.

If the results indicate memory loss, the physician may carry out blood tests and a CT brain scan to examine further and rule out other possible causes.

Another examination called the mini-mental state test— which has also been in use since the 1970s — measures:

  • Exposure to time and place
  • Phrase recall
  • language proficiency
  • Concentration and calculation
  • visuospatial skillfulness

It can analyse diagnose dementia due to Alzheimer’s condition. It can also rate its harshness and assess whether or not drug therapy is appropriate.

Mini-Cog test

The physician may also carry out an examination known as the Mini-Cog test. This concerns the following steps:

  • The physician will take three words from a specific set, “banana, sunrise, chair,” and ask the individual to repeat them. The individual can have three attempts at this.
  • If the person cannot do this, the physician will ask them to remove a clock face, fill in the digits, and set the hands to a precise time. The individual should do this within 3 minutes.
  • If someone cannot conclude the clock task in time, the doctor will ask them to recall and recite the three words from the first task.

There will be a max of 10 points. If the individual scores fewer than 3–4 points, the physician will consider dementia as a potential diagnosis.

Dementia treatment

Two preliminary therapies are used to relieve symptoms of dementia: medicines and non-drug treatments. Not all medicines are authorised for each type of dementia, and no treatment is a cure.

Medications for dementia

Two main types of medication are operated to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-causing conditions:

Cholinesterase inhibitors. 

These drugs increase a chemical called acetylcholine. This chemical may help form memories and improve assessment. It may also delay the worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s condition.


This medicine is used to slow the onset of cognitive and behavioural symptoms in individuals with moderate or severe Alzheimer’s condition. Memantine may let someone with Alzheimer’s disease preserve their usual mental functions for a more extended period of time.

These two drugs may also be specified together. Side effects can happen. Other medicines may be described to treat related symptoms, such as damaged sleep, mood changes, and more additional.

Aducanumab (Aduhelm)

Aducanumab is another medicine approved to treat Alzheimer’s and may delay the progression of the disease, though the examination is ongoing. Aducanumab is an anti-amyloid antibody treatment delivered intravenously. It targets a precise protein component that can disrupt communication between nerve cells in the brain.

Non-drug therapies

This treatment may help decrease symptoms of dementia and relieve some of the effortless complications of the illness. Familiar non-drug therapies for dementia include:

Modifying your environment. 

Clutter, noise, and overstimulation may lower focus.

Modifying common tasks. 

You can operate with a therapist or other healthcare experience to break down day-to-day activities, such as showering or grooming, into effortless tasks.

Occupational therapy. 

Occupational therapists are specialized healthcare professionals who can help you understand to be safer and more secure with lessons including walking, cooking, and driving.

Risk factors

Many factors can finally contribute to dementia. Some aspects, such as age, can’t be changed. Others can be contained to decrease your risk.

Risk factors that can’t be changed


The chance increases as you age, especially after age 65. However, dementia isn’t a regular part of ageing, and dementia can occur in younger people.

Family history. 

Having a family history of dementia puts you at greater risk of developing the illness. However, many individuals with a family history never produce symptoms, and many people without a family history do. There are examinations to resolve whether you have certain genetic mutations.

Down syndrome. 

By middle age, many individuals with Down syndrome develop early-onset Alzheimer’s illness.

Risk factors you can change

You might be able to regulate the following risk factors for dementia.

Diet and exercise. 

Examination shows that lack of activity increases the risk of dementia. And while no exact diet is known to reduce dementia risk, analysis demonstrates a greater incidence of dementia in people who eat an unhealthful diet compared with those who pursue a Mediterranean-style diet rich in produce, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Excessive alcohol use. 

Drinking large quantities of alcohol has long been known to cause brain instabilities. Several large examinations and reviews found that alcohol use disorders were linked to a raised risk of dementia, particularly early-onset dementia.

Cardiovascular risk factors. 

These contain high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, the buildup of fats in your artery walls (atherosclerosis), and obesity.


Although not yet well-understood, late-life depression might suggest the development of dementia.


Having diabetes may increase your risk of dementia, especially if it’s inadequately controlled.


Smoking might boost your risk of developing dementia and blood vessel diseases.

Air pollution. 

Studies in animals have demonstrated that air pollution particulates can speed up the degeneration of the nervous system. And human examinations have found that air pollution exposure — especially from traffic exhaust and burning wood — is associated with a more prominent dementia risk.

Head trauma. 

Individuals who’ve had severe head trauma have a more significant risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Several large examinations found that in individuals aged 50 years or older who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was boosted. The risk increases in people with more extreme and multiple TBIs. Some examinations demonstrate that the risk may be greatest within the first six months to two years after the TBI.

Sleep disturbances. 

Individuals who have sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances might be at more increased risk of developing dementia.

Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. 

Low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate can raise your risk of dementia.

Medications that can worsen memory. 

Try to avoid over-the-counter sleep aids that include diphenhydramine (Advil PM, Aleve PM) and medicines used to treat urinary urgency such as oxybutynin (Ditropan XL).

Also, limit sedatives and sleeping tablets and talk to your physician about whether any of the medicines you take might make your memory worse.

Dementia life expectancy

People living with dementia can and do live for years after their diagnosis. It may appear that dementia is not a fatal illness because of this. However, late-stage dementia is supposed terminal.

It’s difficult for physicians to predict life expectancies in people with dementia. Likewise, factors that affect life expectancy may have a different impact on the length of life in each individual.

In one 2015 study, women interpreted with Alzheimer’s disease lived an average of 5.7 years after diagnosis. Men lived 4.2 years. Life expectancies, the study found, maybe shorter for someone with other types of dementia.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not exact. Dementia is an umbrella term used to define a group of symptoms related to memory, language, and decision making.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most typical type of dementia. It causes difficulty with things like:

  • short-term memory
  • depression
  • disorientation
  • behavioural changes

Dementia causes symptoms such as:

  • forgetfulness or memory impairment
  • loss of sense of directive
  • confusion
  • difficulty with personal care

The identical constellation of symptoms will rely on the type of dementia you have.

Alzheimer’s disease can also generate these symptoms, but other symptoms of Alzheimer’s may enclose depression, impaired judgment, and difficulty speaking.

Also, treatments for dementia rely on the type you have. However, Alzheimer’s disease therapies often coincide with other nonpharmacological dementia treatments.

Dementia prevention

For years, doctors and experimenters believed dementia could not be controlled or cured. However, a new examination indicates that may not be the case.

A 2017 study found that more than one-third of dementia cases may be the result of lifestyle aspects. Particularly, the researchers determined nine risk factors that may boost a person’s chance of developing dementia. They include:

  • midlife hypertension
  • midlife obesity
  • hearing loss
  • late-life depression
  • diabetes
  • physical inactivity
  • smoking
  • social isolation
  • lower levels of education

The experimenters believe that targeting these risk factors with treatment or intervention could slow or possibly discourage some cases of dementia.

A 2019 retrospective analysis looked at nearly 200,000 participants of European ancestry. The analysis suggested that lifestyle factors such as smoking situation, physical workout, diet, and alcohol consumption could potentially contribute to the risk of dementia.

These conclusions suggest that working with your physician to support a healthy and active lifestyle could help prevent or slow the onset of dementia.


Dementia can impact many-body systems and, therefore, the capability to function. Dementia can lead to:

Poor nutrition. 

Many individuals with dementia eventually decrease or stop eating, affecting their nutrient intake. Eventually, they may be incapable to chew and swallow.


Difficulty swallowing raises the risk of choking or aspirating meals into the lungs, which can intercept breathing and cause pneumonia.

Inability to perform self-care tasks. 

As dementia advances, it can interrupt bathing, dressing, brushing hair or teeth, using the toilet independently, and taking medicines as directed.

Personal safety challenges. 

Some day-to-day problems can present safety problems for individuals with dementia, including driving, cooking, walking and living alone.


Late-stage dementia results in coma and death, often from illness.


Dementia is a phrase that represents symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and behaviour. It is a factor of Alzheimer’s disease and can occur with some activity disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The symptoms usually decline over time, and there is presently no cure. Some medications may help manage the symptoms, but the individual may ultimately need full-time help.

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