Aging can be a blessing or a curse. When you have good health, active interests, a loving family and friends, and financial security, aging is not “aging,” but living. However, when financial, social, and medical worries weigh you down, aging is a frightening prospect. One of the biggest fears that people have concerns cognitive abilities – that is, losing the ability to remember, think, and reason. Losing these mental facilities is known as dementia.
Dementia is the umbrella term for a number of specific diseases. Dementia can be defined as a persistent decline in intellectual function, and it involves memory, problem solving, and learning. It is characterized by short-term memory loss; the inability to complete everyday, simple tasks; confusion; impaired judgment (such as walking into traffic); getting lost in familiar places; and paranoia. Dementia can be relatively minor, and is often just referred to as a “bit of dementia,” or it can be life debilitating and fatal, when it occurs as Alzheimer’s disease.