Dementia is the loss of normal brain functions such as memory, motor skills, and behavior to the extent to which an individual’s daily life is severely affected. They will lose their ability to perform simple tasks such as driving, writing, reading, etc. Some people dealing with dementia may have emotional outbursts and their personalities may entirely change. According to the National Institute of Health, “Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person's functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living”. The patient dealing with dementia becomes a completely different person.
Researchers still have not identified the root cause of dementia, however, according to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), it is speculated to be a build-up of proteins that tamper with normal brain activities. Most forms of dementia have symptoms that deteriorate over the years because of repeated damage to neurons (nerve cells) which is known as neurodegeneration. The risk factor for dementia increases with age, but this doesn’t mean that dementia is a normal aging process. Harvard University states, “The first symptom of dementia is memory loss". Slight memory loss is expected among the elderly, but those suffering from dementia experience memory loss at a faster pace and with a greater impact. For example, as people age they may forget where they have kept their keys, a person dealing with dementia will have forgotten how to use the keys. The National Institute of Health states, “In most cases, people suffering from dementia do realize that something is off, but are too scared to reach out for medical assistance to find out. Due to this, the person may get nervous and anxious about the symptoms as they progress".
The diagnosis for dementia is not a simple process. Medical professionals look for criteria of things along with a rapid progression of memory loss to diagnose a patient with dementia. According to Mayo Clinic, “No single test can diagnose dementia, so doctors are likely to run a number of tests to help pinpoint the problems”. Cognitive and laboratory tests, neurological and psychiatric evaluation, along with brain scans are used to diagnose dementia. Harvard states that at least one of the following criteria is mostly used along with rapid memory loss for the diagnosis: struggle to use and comprehend a known language to the patient, inability to perform complex tasks such as organizing, and the inability to recognize familiar people to the patient.