is a "catch all" term that is used to describe a decline in cognitive
skills or mental function. There are a number of different types of
dementia including Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form
of dementia. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, often
characterized by mini-strokes, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson's disease
dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy dementia, Huntington's disease
dementia, Pick's disease dementia, alcohol-associated dementia,
dementia due to infections such as late stage AIDS, dementia due to a
brain tumor, and normal-pressure hydrocephalus dementia. Some temporary
conditions can resemble dementia such as delirium.
are also "Pseudo dementias". These are conditions that look like
dementia, but are reversible such as depression, Vitamin B12
deficiency, an under active thyroid gland, and improper use of
medications. Although not exhaustive, this list demonstrates that there
are many types of dementia that can create memory loss, changes in
personality, difficulty using language, and disorientation that can
cause difficulties with everyday activities.
an accurate diagnosis of the type and cause of dementia is important,
it is recommended that a physician be consulted early on about any
concerns with memory, thinking skills, and behavior changes. You may
even want to ask for a referral to a physician who specializes in the
diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The
diagnostic process typically includes a medical history, a mental
status evaluation, a physical exam, a neurological exam, laboratory
tests, and a psychiatric evaluation.
Other tests that may be
ordered are an EEG (electroencephalogram), CT (computerized tomography)
scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), PET (positron emission
tomography), and SPECT (single proton emission computed tomography).
can learn more about the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related
dementias, visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada's web site at http://www.alzheimers.ca.