- FAQS About Alzheimer’s
- Affiliations, Partnerships & Friends
- Glossary of Terms
- Principles of Caregiving
- Safety and Alzheimer’s Care
- Managing Behaviors
- Impact of Caregiving
- Learn About Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer Care Blog
- Featured Articles
- Wife: Robin Williams Had Parkinson’s Disease, His Sobriety Intact Before Death:
- Early diagnosis, treatment beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients:
- Alzheimer’s patients often go ‘back in time,’ doctor says:
- Yale researchers find compound that reverses Alzheimer’s in mice:
- Caregivers in the ‘sandwich generation’ often surrounded by challenges:
What is Dementia?
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a descriptive term referring to the loss of memory and other cognitive functions, significant deterioration in the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL), and often, changes in social behavior due to changes in the brain caused by disease or trauma. The changes may occur gradually or quickly and may affect memory, language, perception, praxis (skills), calculations, conceptual or language knowledge, executive or decision-making functions, personality, and emotional awareness or expression. Unlike delirium, in which the mental impairment is temporary, the impairment with dementia can be irreversible or reversible if the underlying cause is treated. In the irreversible cases of dementia, such as with Alzheimer’s disease, the impairment is usually progressive, although it may vary at times.
Some common symptoms of dementia may include:
• Disorientation to date or time of day
• Repeatedly asking the same questions
• Inability to follow directions
• Becoming lost or disoriented in familiar places
• Lack of recognition or confusion about familiar people
• Difficulty with routine tasks such as paying the bills
• Personality changes
• Neglect of personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition
• Difficulty with coordination or balance
There are different subtypes of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementias, medical conditions, substance abuse-related, and infection-related.
Blennow K, de Leon MJ, Zetterberg H. (2006). Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet. 368(9533):387-403.
Breitner JC. (1996). APOE genotyping and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet. 347(9009):1184-5.
Devanand DP, Pelton GH, Zamora D, et al. (2005). Predictive utility of apolipoprotein E genotype for Alzheimer disease in outpatients with mild cognitive impairment. Arch Neurol. 62(6):975-80.
Dubois B, Feldman HH, Jacova C, Dekosky ST, Barberger-Gateau P, Cummings J, Delacourte A, Galasko D, Gauthier S, Jicha G, Meguro K, O’brien J, Pasquier F, Robert P, Rossor M, Salloway S, Stern Y, Visser PJ, Scheltens P. (2007). Research criteria for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease: revising the NINCDS-ADRDA criteria. Lancet Neurol. 6(8):734-46.
Holston EC, Schutte DL. (2004). The clinical utility of genetic information in the care of persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Medsurg Nurs.13(6):415-9.
Lendon CL, Ashall F, Goate AM. (Mar). Exploring the etiology of Alzheimer disease using molecular genetics. JAMA. 277(10):825-31.
Mayeux R, Saunders AM, Shea S, Mirra S, Evans D, Roses AD, Hyman BT, Crain B, Tang MX, Phelps CH. (1998) Utility of the Apolipoprotein E Genotype in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. N Engl J Med. 338(8):506-11. Erratum in: N Engl J Med 1998;338(18):1325.
McConnell LM, Koenig BA, Greely HT, Raffin TA. (2007). Genetic testing and Alzheimer’s disease: Has the time come? Recommendations of the Stanford program in genomics, ethics and society. Nature Medicine. (4):757-759.
Nee LE. N. (2007). Genetic counseling and presenilin-1 Alzheimer’s disease: “Research Family” members share some thoughts. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 222(2):99-102.
Post SG, Whitehouse PJ, Binstock RH, et al. (1997). The clinical introduction of genetic testing for Alzheimer disease. An ethical perspective. JAMA. 277:832-836. (Summary) Statement of a consensus group supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health.
Schutte DL. (2006). Alzheimer disease and genetics: anticipating the questions. Am J Nurs. 106(12):40-7.
Serretti A, Olgiati P, De Ronchi D. (2007). Genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. A rapidly evolving field. J Alzheimers Dis.12(1):73-92.
Small GW, Rabins PV, Barry PP, et al. (1997). Diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease and related disorders. Consensus statement of the American Association for geriatric Psychiatry, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the American Geriatrics Society. JAMA. 278(16):1363-71.
Steele, CD. (2000). The genetics of Alzheimer disease. Nurs Clin North Am. 35(3):687-94.
Waldemar G, Dubois B, Emre M, Georges J, McKeith IG, Rossor M, Scheltens P, Tariska P, Winblad B; (2007). EFNS. Recommendations for the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders associated with dementia: EFNS guideline. Eur J Neurol. 14(1):e1-26