top of page

Dementia 101

Most people know, or have known, someone that has some form of memory loss or dementia. Of course, we all notice shifts in our own memory as we age into our senior years -- it is a normal process of aging. However, more pronounced memory impairment and changes in one's ability to process information (i.e., balance a checkbook, follow verbal or written instructions, difficulty controlling emotions, etc) could be indicative of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or a type of dementia. Below is a basic description of dementia.


Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder (progressive decline in the brain) which effects mental functions that can complicate all areas of our daily activities/living. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia where there is a buildup of proteins in the brain (plaques and tangles) and a loss of connection between brain cells. Vascular dementia is a result of poor blood flow to the brain which is often cause by a stroke. Another type of dementia is Lewy Body dementia which is the result of abnormal proteins in the brain and often includes symptoms of impaired movement . Some individuals may be diagnosed with a mixed dementia which is often two types of dementias combined.  There are other types and causes of dementia than those listed here.


In individuals with dementia, cells within the brain begin to die off and areas of the brain which are responsible for specific functions become less effective as the disorder progresses. Some individuals may benefit from medications to temporarily slow progression of memory loss and/or address certain symptoms of dementia (i.e. anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, etc), however medication can have complicating side effects. While there is no cure for most types of dementia, there is ongoing research to better understand and find possible treatments for Alzheimer's disease. For example, rehabilitation therapies (physical, occupational and speech therapies) may help with motor difficulties, activities of daily living (ADLs), and improved communication and problem solving strategies.


Reference: MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine, National Institute on Health.

  • One in nine people age 65 and older (11.3%) has Alzheimer's dementia.

  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.

  • Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older Whites.

    Source: Alzheimer's Association

bottom of page