Dementia is a condition of mental decline that usually comes on
slowly over several months. It involves memory, problem-solving and learning
abilities, and other mental functions. Little change is noticed day to day,
although many people with dementia seem better or worse at different times of
Many health conditions can cause dementia or symptoms similar to
dementia. In some cases dementia may be reversible.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of
dementia in people over age 65.
Early signs of dementia include the following.
Behavior changes, such as:
A normally tidy person becomes
A change in previous routines for no obvious
A decline in language and communication
Paranoia and suspicions of others
Personality changes, such as:
Wide mood swings
Skill changes, such as an inability to:
Balance a checkbook
self-care acitivities, such as shaving or putting on makeup
Find previously familiar
Remember times and dates
Remember where familiar
items are kept
A young person who has symptoms of dementia is more likely to have a
psychiatric condition or a substance abuse problem than early dementia.
Over time, mental impairment from dementia will become severe enough
to interfere with daily living activities.
Bets Davis, MFA
Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Shelly R. Garone, MD - Palliative Care
July 14, 2008
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 14, 2008
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this