Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is not a single disease in itself, but a general term to describe symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking. It causes problems with thinking, memory, and reasoning. It happens when the parts of the brain used for learning, memory, decision making, and language are damaged or diseased.
While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
- Loss of memory/ short term memory
- Communication and language problems
- Loss of ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Disturb visual perception.
People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.
Dementia can be caused by brain cell death, and neuro-degenerative disease, progressive brain cell death that happens over time is associated with most dementia. However it is not known if the dementia causes the brain cell death, or the brain cell death causes the dementia. But, as well as progressive brain cell death, dementia can be caused by a head injury, a stroke, or a brain tumor, among other causes.