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A new case of dementia is diagnosed worldwide every four seconds.*
*Source: World Health Organization

Dementia Overview

Dementia is not one specific disease, but is a term used to describe a variety of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. These disorders are characterized by impaired memory and difficulty with language, motor activity, recognizing objects and “executive function,” which refers to the ability to plan and organize.

It’s important to recognize that although dementia is usually accompanied by memory loss, not all memory loss is a sign of dementia. Your WellStar neurologist will help you understand the distinction and take steps to determine if the symptoms indicate dementia.

Dementia is typically an illness that affects older adults, but it is not a normal part of aging.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. Another common type is vascular dementia, which is a result of brain damage from strokes and other causes. Other types include Lewy body dementia, Huntington’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Conditions that can cause dementia and dementia-like symptoms include medications, metabolic abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, infections, poisoning, brain tumors, heart and lung problems and conditions that cause reduced oxygen supply to the brain.

Dementia Symptoms

Symptoms of dementia can vary a great deal. At least two core mental functions must show significant impairment to be considered dementia. These are:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

Risk Factors

Age and genetics are risk factors for developing dementia. While these cannot be changed, other controllable risk factors may play a role. Researchers continue to study the impact of cardiovascular factors, fitness and nutrition.

While links have not been definitively proven, WellStar neurologists agree that taking certain steps to protect the brain and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain may reduce the risk of developing dementia.