Dementia is not a specific disease, rather, is a general term for a chronic and progressive loss of cognitive functioning (thinking, remembering, comprehension, and reasoning) to an extent of disruption to daily life and activities. Patients with dementia display a continuous deterioration in mental capabilities beyond what is expected for normal aging. Often, in the later stages of their diagnosis, a patient’s symptoms can become so significant that they are no longer able to function independently.

Many types of dementia exist and more than one type can occur simultaneously; the most common types are Alzheimer’s dementia, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body dementia. Symptoms, regardless of type, affect individuals differently and vary in progression.

The onset of dementia is often overlooked due to the gradual development of symptoms. In the early stages of dementia, a person may become lost in familiar places and show both excessive and frequent forgetfulness.

Signs and symptoms become more apparent in the middle stages of dementia. Patients become increasingly forgetful and can become more confused in familiar environments. Difficulty recalling recent conversations, forgetting events that have occurred, and even recognition of people become more noticeable. At this stage help with the activities of daily living may also become necessary due to the progression of symptoms.

The late stages of dementia are marked by severe memory disturbances; symptoms at this point become obvious and persistent. Behavior and mood changes can also develop due to increased confusion and lack of awareness. Patients require complete dependence on others for care and assistance when they are in the late stages.


Symptoms can include but are not limited to:


Diagnosing any form of dementia requires a neurological evaluation by a medical provider. Having a family member or caregiver present at evaluation is important so that a detailed medical and family history can be obtained. Tests on attention, memory, problem solving, and cognitive abilities can also be performed. Radiology studies in addition to bloodwork can also be examined to rule out any other potential causes for symptoms.