What is dementia 

This is a mental disorder. Memory is seriously affected. This seriously affects a person’s ability to move about and recognize persons and places. The term is derived from Latin, meaning ‘without mind’.  Dementia is defined as ‘a serious loss of  global cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging. 

To some extent, weakening of memory is natural as age advances. This is not dementia. It is necessary that the senior citizens keep themselves mentally active. If they do not work and lead retired life, it will help to play card games, Sudoku, cross word puzzles. The weakness in mental capacity in old age can also be compensated by orderly management and arrangements. The shoes, clothes, spectacles and other items of use should be kept at fixed places. Then there will be no need to search for any item. 

As some fading of mental strength and memory is natural in old age, dementia is defined loss of mental capacity exceeding what is considered normal in old age. Although, the disease is more likely in old age, this can affect even before the age of sixty five years.   

Dementia consists of several disorders which may be memory, attention, language and  problem solving.  There are many types of dementia. These may be Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, semantic dementia etc.  There is also a mixed dementia which is a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and multi infarct dementia.    

Dementia is not simply a memory disorder. This ranges various difficulties associated with brain viz. learning, reasoning, pattern of thoughts, feeling and activities. Those suffering from dementia may be affected by depression, anxiety, delusions. 

There are many risks associated with the disease.  Driving is likely to cause injury.  Persons suffering from dementia cannot be issued driving licenses. Dementia also affects behavior. The patients may needlessly wander and be restless. There may be sudden anger or sadness. 

Causes of dementia

The causes of dementia are dependent on age at which symptoms begin. Those aged 65 years and above are more affected by Alzheimer;s disease, vascular dementia or both. Those up to age of 40 are very less likely to develop dementia without other features of neurological diseases or without features of disease in other body parts. The causes of disease in this age group are generally alcohol or other drugs or metabolic disturbance.    

Dementia and age related pain 

Aging process creates a lot of health problems that cause pain. Good number of the aged persons experience pain persistently. The pain is irrespective of dementia. Dementia or no dementia, aging involves pain. However, as the aged persons suffering from dementia are unable to express their suffering from pain, this is often ignored. Persistent pain may result in depression, sleep disorder, impaired appetite and other problems. Family members can be of immense help in care of a person with dementia as they know that person’s condition better.


Thus, there is a difference between some natural mental  slow process and fading of memory and that which is considered more serious. Normal weakening of memory is not dementia. By some efforts and cooperation of family, the aged can live normal life without any problem. In case of acute loss of memory and other mental disorder, it is necessary to consult a doctor and get medical treatment accordingly.    

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