Understanding Dementia

Dementia is progressive loss of cognitive function, marked by memory problems and confused thinking. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's Disease, a fatal condition that affects more than 5 million Americans. Dementia most often occurs during old age, but is a more severe form of decline than that which accompanies normal aging.

Recent Posts on Dementia

Death With Dementia

By Robin Marantz Henig on May 15, 2015 in Cusp
Sandy Bem needed to choose a day to die, and it had to be just right. Too soon, and it might be a day when she still felt basically fine, still essentially herself even as her Alzheimer's disease implacably ate away at her intellect. Too late, and she might no longer have the resolve, or the understanding, or even the physical dexterity to end her life on her own.

Did the Victorian Asylum Allow the Rich to Evade Justice?

By Sarah Wise on May 13, 2015 in Lunacy and Mad Doctors
A member of the establishment is accused of a sex crime but avoids trial by being declared unfit to plead. A scandal erupts. It's England, 1854

Lessons in Speaking From The Heart

By Greg O'Brien on May 12, 2015 in On Pluto
Laughter can be a powerful antidote to dementia—the pain, conflict, and stress of it. A good laugh, doctors say, reduces tension and can leave muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Laughter boosts the immune system, decreases stress hormones, and triggers the release of endorphins—the natural drug of choice.

The Debate Over “Excited Delirium” Heats Up

To be clear, we have known since the early 19th century that there is a form of manic excitement, or “manic delirium,” that may end fatally.

Mother's Day: Role Reversal

By Katherine Bouton on May 08, 2015 in What I Hear
My aging mother could hear, but I couldn't. My hearing and her dementia still created a nearly unbridgeable gap. The only way across it was with smiles and hugs and just being there — for her and for me.

Mother's Day and Alzheimer's Disease

How to celebrate Mother's Day with someone who has Alzheimer's disease

Will Sleep Apnea Give Me Alzheimer's?

In dreams begin realities—but to remember stuff you need to sleep effectively.

Do Alzheimer's Patients Have the Right to Say Yes to Sex?

The right to love is considered to be an essential human right; however, one exception that often prevails is in cases of Alzheimer’s patients. The case of Henry Rayhons, who was charged with sexually abusing his wife Donna, is such a striking example; Can people who are unable to recognize their own children give their sound sexual consent?

Ménage à Trois: Sex, Dementia and the Law

By Mario D Garrett PhD on April 24, 2015 in iAge
The law will need to re-evaluate the legal standing of someone with dementia. The crude methods of conservatorship and declaration of incompetence cannot deal with the fragile nature of relationships, and sexual relationship, among patients diagnosed with dementia.

Men Lose Their Memory Faster With Age

By Temma Ehrenfeld on April 23, 2015 in Open Gently
Men lose their memory faster than women.

Dementia and the "Obesity Paradox"

By Harriet Brown on April 23, 2015 in Brave Girl Eating
Why are we still surprised that obesity isn't all bad?

Dying, Demented, and Alone

Once upon a time in American medicine, you could usually rely on the presence of a spouse, family member, or friend to help make decisions for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. That is likely no longer going to be the case. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a startling fact about a changing America: most people are single.

Newsflashes from Emotion Science

A few reflections on the themes that emerged from the second annual meeting of the Society for Affective Science, a new society dedicated to understanding our emotional lives.

Recent Links Between Food and Mood

By Gary L Wenk Ph. D. on April 08, 2015 in Your Brain on Food
A poor diet that was high in saturate fats and caloric levels lead to depression. Fortunately, it is never too late to take advantage of the benefits of a healthy diet.

What to Do When Life Is Short

Dual citizenship as a doctor and as a seriously ill patient had taught him that respectful communication is the bedrock of all medicine.

Lessening Alzheimer’s Discordance: Five Recommendations

Dealing with the differing views of the illness held by the person with Alzheimer's disease and the care partner is a challenging but critical task. Lessening this discordance enormously reduces care partner stress, and is valuable for the person with the disease, as well.

Alzheimer's Discordance and Family Discord

There is usually a significant difference between how the person with the disease sees (or doesn’t see) the symptoms of the disease, and how the care partner sees them. This “discordance” is one of the most distressing and difficult challenges care partners face in trying to cope with the illness.

Dragging Dead Bodies

Dragging around the dead bodies at work sure can wear you out! Here is some good advice.

Can We Reverse Cognitive Decline?

By Katherine Bouton on March 30, 2015 in What I Hear
Good brain health is the bottom line. Now we just have to figure out how to preserve that health in those with hearing loss.

Suicide or Mass Murder? : The Deliberate Downing of Flt 9525

By Stephen A Diamond Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in Evil Deeds
What motivates suicidal mass killings like the deliberate downing of Germanwings Flt. 9525?

Let´s Go to the Movies

By Ana Nogales on March 26, 2015 in Family Secrets
Movies have the ability to change our attitude, how we think and feel, and even our values.

What Makes You Say You’re Lonely?

By Peter Toohey on March 26, 2015 in Annals of the Emotions
What does it mean to be lonely and how do say that you are lonely? Is language enough to describe it? Are you lonely just because you think you are lonely and say you are lonely? Or are specific circumstances required for there to be loneliness? What does loneliness mean for the animal and human brain? Is loneliness and the word “loneliness” common to all cultures?

Epigenetics and Memory

Want to increase your cognitive function? Eating the right foods can boost your brain power.

Why Childhood Stress Crimps Academic Performance

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 18, 2015 in The Human Beast
Animals from an environment full of risk remain vigilant and avoid exploring their surroundings. This promotes survival but has the indirect consequence of reducing their cognitive ability. A similar pattern applies to humans and shows up as academic under performance.

Worrying About Dementia

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 17, 2015 in Open Gently
Anxiety is a risk factor for dementia.

Grief, Loneliness, and Losing a Spouse

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Sooner or later, every married couple will face the prospect of their relationship coming to an end, whether due to death or divorce. For those people dealing with the loss of a spouse, overcoming loneliness represents the greatest challenge in moving on with life afterward. A new study looks at how grief and loneliness are linked to depression in older adults.

Can Your Personality Influence Your Cognitive Ability?

By Kristine Anthis Ph.D. on March 15, 2015 in Who Am I?
Can being open to new experiences stave off dementia?

Music Probably Doesn't Make Kids Smarter. So What?

Music lessons probably don't make kids smarter. But they have lots of other benefits.

5 Ways to Motivate and Encourage Seniors

Caring for, and having successful relationships with older adults often require unique interpersonal skills and strategies.

18 Ways to Add Oomph to Your Everyday Activities

Physical exercise has many brain health benefits, and reduces the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. But you don’t have to hit the gym to get your heart pumping! Here are 18 ways to add umph to your everyday activities.