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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Dementia

Introduction

Dementia is the progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging. Although dementia is far more common in the geriatric population, it may occur in any stage of adulthood. This age cutoff is defining, as similar sets of symptoms due to organic brain dysfunction are given different names in populations younger than adulthood.

In dementia, affected areas in cognition may be memory, attention, language, and problem solving. Higher mental functions are affected first in the process, especially in the later stages of the condition. Affected persons may be disoriented in time, not knowing what day of the week, day of the month, month, or even what year it is, in place, not knowing where they are and in person, not knowing who they are.