It has become a widespread, accepted belief that as a person ages that will start to lose their memory and become senile. The term senility is generally used to describe the forgetfulness that one expects to see in an elderly person, while dementia is believed by many people to be a disease that preys on an elderly person’s mind. This is an incorrect understanding of both terms, though in the case of dementia it is more incomplete than incorrect.
There are many possible causes of a poor memory. Aging is one of them, but not all elderly people experience memory loss, certainly not to the extent that they become incapable of taking care of themselves. Senility used to be used as a medical term and linked with certain forms of dementia, but this is no longer the case. It has been removed from medical handbooks and is no longer used by health care professionals.
The world senile has a derogatory connotation, and as such has become an unpopular term. Some people can be forgetful their entire lives and some people can live to a great age without ever experiencing a meaningful measure of memory loss. The term senile should no longer be used to describe the elderly.
Dementia is a medical term used to describe various forms of brain disorders. It is not a disease in and of itself, but a class of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells. Aging is one of the causes of this damage in some patients, but it is not the only one. A person can be diagnosed with dementia at any age, perhaps because of a brain injury. Some causes of dementia can be reversed, such as vitamin deficiencies.
Memory loss is the symptom most commonly associated with dementia, but a person can be forgetful without having dementia. In order to be clinically diagnosed, a person must exhibit two or more of the symptoms of dementia severely enough to inhibit normal, everyday activities.
Memory is the function most commonly impaired with dementia. The other four function are communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. If any of these functions are inhibited, there are several possible causes. You will need to consult with your primary care physician in order to correctly diagnose the cause in your case and work out a treatment plan.
Dementia is a progressive disease. This means that it is easy to overlook the early warning signs because they come on gradually. As time goes on, however, your condition will worsen. It is important to detect dementia as early as possible in order to give you and your loved ones times to plan for the future. At this time there is no known cure for dementia.