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 of normal aging.

Recent Posts on Dementia

Creative Rehabilitation, Part 4: Dementia

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on August 22, 2015 in Trouble in Mind
Creative and individualized strategies to help a person with dementia retain some dignity and reasons for living are feasible in the early and mid-way stages of the disease, and support and therapy can help family members cope when their loved one is alive, as well as make the grieving process less painful.

The Judy Fund: Fighting To Keep The Memories

By Greg O'Brien on August 12, 2015 in On Pluto
It is the spirit of The Judy Fund that offers the greatest promise of igniting awareness to the staggering number of women afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

The Boob in the Boob Tube

So who is the boob in the boob tube?

The Persistent Stigma of Hearing Loss

By Katherine Bouton on August 06, 2015 in What I Hear
Twenty-five years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the stigma of hearing loss persists. Some thoughts about why that might be.

Dementia, Later-Life Cognition and Bilingualism

A pioneering study that showed that bilingualism has a protective effect on the onset of dementia came out eight years ago. Since then, further studies have shown similar results but some have not. This said, it now seems clear that bilingualism, along with other factors, does have a positive effect on later-life cognition.

Still Alice? Still Alzheimer’s

By Joe Pierre M.D. on July 31, 2015 in Psych Unseen
Is there anything nice to say about Alzheimer's disease?

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of Memory and Aging

Sherlock Holmes is the quintessential detective, but what happens to his memory and his mind in old age? The new movie Mr. Holmes, as well as current research on cognitive aging, allow for an important case study on memory and aging.

How Does Physical Fitness Improve Your Brain Function?

New research has identified specific benefits of physical fitness on brain structure and function.

A Waking Dream

By Greg O'Brien on July 06, 2015 in On Pluto
The barkers have started selling new cures. Praise the Lord and pass the Aricept!

The Neuroscience of Recalling Old Memories

Neuroscientists have identified how our brain encodes multiple aspects of a life event into a singular memory for later recollection.

The Neuroscience of Forming New Memories

In a breakthrough study, an international team of neuroscientists has identify how new memories are formed by individual neurons.

Digital Dementia

By Susan Greenfield Ph.D. on July 01, 2015 in Mind Change
Action video games improve low level attention and visuospatial memory, but is there a link between gaming and a more global loss of memory reminiscent of dementia?

Does Chronic Anxiety Increase Dementia Risk in the Elderly?

People who develop Alzheimer’s disease have abnormal proteins accumulating in their brains decades prior to the appearance of symptoms. Individuals who have an anxiety disorder during the pre-symptomatic phase of dementia display more rapid cognitive deterioration than non-anxious individuals.

Why Do Certain Blood Types Have a Higher Risk of Dementia?

Neuroscientists have discovered that your blood type may impact brain volume in regions linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

When the Worst Happens

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease can be frightening and overwhelming for a family. Here are some tips to cope with this diagnosis.

Everyone Needs Support - But Some Don't Like To Admit It

There are many good reasons to attend a support group for Alzheimer's care partners, but it seems there are just as many reasons people give for not going. Even if you don't feel you need to go to a support group, try it anyway - for yourself, and for your loved one who suffers from the disease.

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.

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.