- Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a number of different brain disease that are all defined by a loss of cognitive function (thinking and memory) and a decline in behavioral skills which affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities
- Individuals with dementia may have personality changes and/or alterations in their way of relating to others that are substantially different from the way they behaved prior to the onset of dementia. Sometimes the progression of change in behaviors can be quite gradual and not obvious until there is some type of event or episode that attracts the attention of family, friends or medical professionals.
- In some cases, Alzheimer’s Disease may be preceded by pre-clinical markers of disease and/or memory and cognitive decline (mild cognitive impairment) that is not associated with impairments in functioning
- The most common cause of dementia in older adults is Alzheimer’s Disease
- Other forms of dementia include Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Disorder, and Vascular Dementia
- Many people with dementia have brain changes associated with more than one cause or type of dementia. This is sometimes called mixed dementia, although an assessment by a specialist in dementia may provide a more specific or nuanced description of the type of disease that can help individuals and families best cope with their specific condition.
- Total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States have been projected to increase from $290 billion in 2019 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050
Pre-clinical Alzheimer’s Disease
Pre-clinical Alzheimer’s Disease is a topic that is undergoing intense research.
Individuals in this very earliest stage have measurable changes in the brain, spinal fluid and/or blood that may suggest the biological indicators (biomarkers) of disease. However, these individuals have not yet developed symptoms such as memory loss.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some individuals have a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI. Individuals with MCI may have memory and cognitive issues, but the symptoms do not interfere with their daily activities.
Those with MCI are at a great risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Not all individuals with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s Disease or other types of dementia.