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“Dementia Review 2020”

With the current presidential campaigns in full swing, the subject of dementia has been raised as it relates to both candidates. A little review is in order. As we age, we experience many physical and cognitive changes. Older people often have a decrease in recall memory. This is called normal memory loss and is part of the expected changes with aging. When you have troubles with memory – but they don’t interfere with your daily activities – this is called mild cognitive impairment. Your doctor might recommend the MoCA, or Montreal Cognitive Assessment test, which screens for memory problems and helps determine if more evaluation is needed. Dementia tends to be a slow-moving progression that occurs over months or years. Depression can also cause memory changes, particularly as we get older. Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type of dementia, followed by vascular dementia. They have similar symptoms: confusion, getting lost, forgetting close friends or family, or an inability to do calculations like balance the checkbook. And, as with any disease or disease group, dementia is not a “character flaw,” and the term should not be used to criticize a person. Dementia is a serious medical diagnosis. Approximately 6 million Americans have dementia and nearly a half-million new Alzheimer’s cases will be diagnosed annually. Dementia, which is not technically a disease but a term for impaired ability to think, remember or make decisions, is one of the most feared impairments of old age. About 5% of those aged 71 to 79 have dementia, and about 37% of those about 90 years old live with it.

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