Dementia is a decline of reasoning,memory, and other mental abilities (the cognitive functions). This decline eventually impairs the ability to carry out everyday activities such as driving; household chores; and even personal care such as bathing, dressing, and feeding (often called activities of daily living, or ADLs).
* Dementia is most common in elderly people; it used to be called senility and was considered a normal part of aging.
* We now know that dementia is not a normal part of aging but is caused by a number of underlying medical conditions that can occur in both elderly and younger persons.
* In some cases, dementia can be reversed with proper medical treatment. In others, it is permanent and usually gets worse over time.
About 4-5 million people in the United States have some degree of dementia, and that number will increase over the next few decades with the aging of the population.
* Dementia affects about 1% of people aged 60-64 years and as many as 30-50% of people older than 85 years.
* It is the leading reason for placing elderly people in institutions such as nursing homes or hiring a nursing assistant.
Dementia is a very serious condition that results in significant financial and human costs.
* Many people with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their care.
* Although people with dementia typically remain fully conscious, the loss of short- and long-term memory are universal.
* People with dementia also experience declines in any or all areas of intellectual functioning, for example, use of language and numbers; awareness of what is going on around him or her; judgment; and the ability to reason, solve problems, and think abstractly.
* These losses not only impair a person's ability to function independently, but also have a negative impact on quality of life and relationships.
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