Dealing with Dementia, Part 1 of 4: Dementia Defined

Dementia is a debilitating condition that many Americans eventually face as they age. So, what is dementia and what are the costs to the individual, the family, and the nation as a whole? As Elder Law attorneys in Grand Rapids we are uniquely positioned to help find solutions for many of the problems dementia brings. While we can’t stop dementia, we can help protect those in its clutches while the medical world continues to seek prevention, treatment and reversal of the condition.

Dementia Defined 

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”

Dementia is not actually a specified disease. It describes, instead, a general decline in memory or other thinking skills and is identified through a variety of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease currently accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. In order to be characterized as dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:

  • visual perception
  • reasoning and judgment
  • memory
  • communication and language
  • ability to focus and pay attention.

If a loved one is having trouble with any two or more of these mental functions, it’s a good idea to get it checked by a doctor. Dementia is progressive and typically takes over the mental functions over time. Fortunately, the slower progression provides the individual and the family with time to plan for its long term effects.

Following along as we explore how a Dementia diagnosis impacts the individual, their family, and the nation as a whole in this 4 part series.