According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Dementia is not a specific disease, but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities.” The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, though there are several types of dementia including frontotemporal dementia (FTD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and vascular dementia (VaD) to name a few. Globally, more than 50 million people have dementia, and an estimated 10 million new cases are reported each year. Projections show that the number of affected individuals will reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 million by 2050.
A dementia diagnosis comes after a series of tests of memory, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities performed by a health care provider. Blood tests, brain scans, and physicals are carried out to help doctors figure out the underlying cause. Dementia is broken down into early, mid, and late stages, with a worsening of symptoms as the condition progresses.
The long-term effects of dementia can be difficult for both those affected and their caregivers, family, and friends, and can include a lack of family recognition, difficulty walking, and significant memory impairment. The afflicted person becomes completely dependent on others for care. Early diagnosis is especially important and can help with planning both at home, with preventive care and other measures such as reminders, and at work. It also enables dementia patients to access clinical trials and available therapies that may improve cognitive functioning and overall quality of life.
Neural Effects consulted the CDC’s list of warning signs for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to review what adults should look for before seeking an official medical diagnosis. This list may also prove helpful for those who’ve noticed loved ones who are experiencing one or more early signs of dementia.
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