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What is Dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that don’t have a definitive diagnosis. Dementia affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. It can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease.
People can have more than one type of dementia. This is known as mixed dementia. People with mixed dementia have symptoms of two or more types of dementia. A diagnosis of mixed dementia can only be confirmed in an autopsy.
As dementia progresses, it can have a huge impact on the ability to function independently. It’s a major cause of disability for older adults and places an emotional and financial burden on families and caregivers.
What is Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease that progressively and irreversibly destroys memory and thinking skills. Age is the biggest risk factor for the disease. Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease takes away the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks.
To help determine whether patients have this particular brain disease, doctors talk to the patients and their close family members about any recent challenges or changes in behavior or memory. They also administer a mental status exam in an office setting, and possibly do a short neuro-psych evaluation.
For more information on Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer Society of Ontario Website.