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What is Dementia?

Dementia describes disabling problems in multiple cognitive abilities. The essential word here is “disabling.” The person needs assistance because of measurable declines in abilities such as memory, attention, and language. Dementia is usually caused by diseases, the most common one, but not the only one, being Alzheimer’s. (AARP)

The National Institute on Aging defines dementia in two parts:

  • Having two or more core functions that are impaired. These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, and the ability to focus and pay attention. Also included are cognitive skills such as the ability to reason and solve problems.
  • A loss of brain function severe enough that a person cannot do normal everyday tasks.

Challenges with having the conversation

Normal Age-related Changes or Dementia?
After about age 50, everyone has trouble occasionally finding words and experiences lapses in memory. The decision we all struggle with is whether those lapses indicate the need for a doctor’s assessment of our cognitive abilities. The struggle for many friends and family members is understanding where mild cognitive aging issues end and dementia begins. Hence, the resistance, hesitation, and/or procrastination of initiating the tough conversation with your loved one to schedule a medical assessment.

Family members and friends want to help their loved one and have a conversation about their concerns and observations but are cautiously aware of the severe sensitivity involved.

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