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Dementia is characterized by a loss of cognitive function and a change in behavioral abilities that negatively impact a person’s ability to complete normal daily tasks. Anyone experiencing the symptoms associated with dementia should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. After reviewing your medical history and evaluating your current symptoms, your doctor will assess your memory impairment, determine difficulties with thinking skills, identify any behavioral changes and judge functional abilities. They may also run tests to rule out other potential causes for your symptoms.
There are many types of dementia, some more common than others. The most common type, making up 60-70% of all dementia cases, is Alzheimer’s disease. Because dementia can affect each person differently, it’s important to gather as much information as possible to gain a better understanding if you, a family member or a friend has been diagnosed.
Rather than being a specific disease, dementia refers to a group of conditions that cause impairment of at least two brain functions such as judgment, language skills, visual perception or memory loss. Although a person may experience some problems and difficulties when the condition is in its early stages, they’re generally still able to function and live independently. In fact, dementia may be present long before it’s actually perceived. As the condition progresses, however, a person eventually must rely completely on others to assist them with the most basic of actions.
People with dementia may experience difficulties in completing daily actions such as following a recipe or remembering where they put things. They may become disoriented and lost, even in their own neighborhood. Although dementia is more common as people get older (half of all people age 85 and older may have some form of dementia), dementia is not the normal process of getting older. If you or a family member experience any of the signs or symptoms associated with dementia, it’s important to get a medical evaluation as soon as possible. It should be noted that some causes of dementia can be reversible and should be treated in a timely manner.