What is Dementia?

Dementia defined

Dementia is a loss of mental function in two or more areas such as language, memory, visual and spatial abilities, or judgment severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia itself is not a disease but a broader set of symptoms that accompanies certain diseases or physical conditions. Well-known diseases that cause dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, multi-infarct dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Pick’s disease, and Lewy body dementia. Other physical conditions may cause or mimic dementia, such as depression, brain tumors, head injuries, nutritional deficiencies, hydrocephalus, infections (AIDS, meningitis, syphilis), drug reaction, and thyroid problems. Individual experiencing dementia-like symptoms should undergo diagnostic testing as soon as possible. An early and accurate diagnosis helps to identify reversible conditions gives patients a greater chance of benefiting from existing treatments, and allows them and their families more time to plan for the future.

 What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, affecting as many as 4 million Americans. AD is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain, begins gradually, and progresses at a variable rate. AD results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior and can last from the time of onset of symptoms. Warning signs of AD are memory loss that affects job/home skills, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems finding the right words, disorientation as to time and place, poor or decreased judgment, difficulty with learning and abstract thinking, placing things in inappropriate places, changes in mood and personality, and marked loss of initiative. In the last stage of AD, patients are unable to take care of themselves. Recent research has shown links between particular genes and Alzheimer’s disease, but in about 90% of AD cases, there is no clear genetic link. With the help of standardized diagnostic criteria, physicians can now diagnose AD with an accuracy of 85-90% once symptoms occur. However, a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is possible only through the examination of brain tissue at autopsy.


Alzheimer's disease (pronounced Alz-hi-merz) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a loss of intellectual function (thinking, remembering and reasoning) so severe that it interferes with an individual's daily functioning and eventually results in death. AD is the fourth leading cause of death in adults, after heart disease, cancer and stroke. Men and women are affected almost equally. The disease was first described by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Since then, researchers have developed a deeper understanding of the changes in the brain (plaques and tangles) and behavioral changes that characterize the disease. Identified risk factors are age and family history. Most people diagnosed with AD are older than age 65; however, AD can occur in people in their 40's and 50's.


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Guardian Angel

A 501(C)3 non-profit supporting local Alzheimer's research and Alzheimers North Carolina, Inc.

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742 N. Main Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526