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Dementia is a general term used to describe various symptoms of decline in memory, language, reasoning, and other cognitive skills that impact a person's relationships and ability to function independently. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia. Vascular dementia, which develops when there is microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia.


The likelihood of having dementia increases with age but it is not a normal part of the aging process. With dementia, there is often a recognizable decline in communication skills, memory, decision-making, problem-solving, and other thinking skills as well as changes in mood or behavior. These changes may happen quickly or progress slowly over time. An individual who is in the early stages of dementia may notice some of these changes; for other people with dementia, the changes may only be noticed by caregivers or healthcare providers.


Possible signs of dementia:

  • Difficulty completing an everyday task, such as cooking a meal, setting a table, or paying a bill

  • Problems communicating with others - forgetting common words or using words incorrectly; having difficulty putting thoughts into words

  • Memory loss - asking the same question repeatedly; quickly forgetting recent events 

  • Misplacing belongings - forgetting the location of everyday items such as house keys or clothes

  • Behavior changes - becoming suspicious, irritable, apathetic, anxious, agitated - especially in situations where memory problems are present

  • Disorientation - getting lost in familiar surroundings

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