Aging Well

Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be frightening both for you and your loved ones. These guides and resources can help you recognize the signs and symptoms, cope with your worries, and plan for the road ahead.

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Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia FAQs

What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for various neurological conditions that lead to impaired cognitive abilities. If someone has a form of dementia, they may experience a gradual decline in memory, problem-solving skills, and judgment. Dementia can interfere with day-to-day functioning, causing confusion, irritability, problems recalling names and dates, and the frequent loss of important items. This can have a negative effect on the person’s sense of independence and their social and emotional well-being. While as many as half of those aged over 85 may experience some form of dementia, it is not an inevitable part of aging.
What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for various neurological conditions that involve cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It accounts for roughly 60 to 70 percent of cases. Other forms of dementia include vascular, frontotemporal, and Lewy body dementia.
What are the stages of dementia?
The progression of dementia can be tracked with a commonly used methods such as the 7-stage model. In the first stage, you or a loved one may have no noticeable signs of dementia. Stage two involves seemingly normal lapses in memory, and stage three involves mild but noticeable cognitive impairment. Stage four comes with moderate cognitive decline, which becomes moderately severe in stage five. By stage six, your loved one will need help with basic daily activities, such as getting dressed. At stage seven, the cognitive decline is so severe that your loved one may not be able to form sentences and will need around-the-clock care.
What are the early signs of dementia?
The earliest signs of dementia can be subtle and easily mistaken for normal signs of aging. Early symptoms include difficulty remembering recent events, decreased focus, and minor bouts of confusion over things like time. You might also notice some changes your loved one’s personality or mood. They may seem more withdrawn or apathetic than they used to be. While someone may not exhibit all of these signs in the early stages of dementia, the symptoms and their severity will gradually increase.
What is frontotemporal dementia?
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the most common type of dementia in people under 60. The disorder occurs in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain—the areas behind the forehead and behind the ears which control speech and personality. Also known as frontal lobe dementia or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), frontotemporal dementia eventually leads to changes in character and behavioras well as impairment in intellect, memory, and speech. FTD also tends to occur at an earlier age than Alzheimer’s disease, usually first appearing in adults between the ages of 40 and 60 and progressing over time.