Even though the term dementia is used as a standalone term in most cases, it is not actually a single disease. Dementia is a term used by doctors to outline a group of symptoms affecting memory impairments, communication deficits, and organized thinking.

Even though the act of aging does increase a person's risk of developing dementia, the condition is not a normal part of aging. However, the symptoms of dementia can range from light to severe.

Cases of light dementia can be confused as normal aging. This is because of diminishing short-term memory, also known as cognitive decline, is a normal part of aging. It is not a significant problem unless you really need to find something.

Dementia, on the other hand, involves symptoms that affect daily life and activities in a severe way.


The cause of most dementia is brain cell death or neurodegenerative disease – which is a type cell death affecting the brain. Other causes involve a direct head injury, a stroke – even one that was not diagnosed, tumor in the brain, or other unknown causes.

One of the most common causes of severe dementia is repetitive traumatic brain injury, like the kind experienced in contact sports.

Dementia can also be caused by conditions like prion diseases, HIV, and other factors that may be reversible.

The Many Faces of Dementia

There are many types of dementia, including:

What to Look for In Dementia

The most common symptoms of dementia involve disorientation, mood changes, and memory loss. However, there are many more symptoms, but many of them are contributed to memory loss.

  • Recent, sudden memory loss
  • Difficulty completing tasks, even if they are familiar with them
  • Difficulty with communication and rearranging language
  • Becoming lost easily
  • Losing things frequently
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Changes in personality
  • Not showing interest in things they once enjoyed

When doctors begin testing for dementia, they start with memory performance. They also try and focus on cognitive health, because it is such an important part of everyday life. Word knowledge tests are a primary concern at this point.

Is there A Treatment for Dementia?

There is no way to reverse brain cell death. There is also no cure for any form of degenerative dementia. The goal in treating dementia involves determining what type of dementia is involved and working on the various symptoms of the disease. If caught early enough, some symptoms of dementia can be reversed, or slowed. Various medications can be given to slow the progression of tissue deterioration, and cognitive therapy can be used to maintain daily function for a longer period of time.

The main key in treating dementia is to determine whether the condition is caused by an injury, medication effects, vitamin deficiency, degenerative cause, or non-degenerative cause.

The diagnosis of dementia may be a cause for stress, but it is not the end of the world. There are treatments to slow its progression, help maintain the function that exists, and exercises to improve memory function. Taking medications as prescribed can also help slow progression.

Last Reviewed:
December 20, 2016
Last Updated:
September 22, 2017