What Actually Happens in Dementia?

3 min readFeb 20


Actor Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a group of brain disorders caused by progressive loss of nerve cells in the brain.
The 67-year-old Bruce Willis was previously diagnosed with aphasia — which causes speech difficulties — but this has developed, and he has been given a more specific diagnosis, his family said.

Bruce Willis has dementia, his family announces

Dementia is the term for loss of memory, language, problem solving and other thinking abilities that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer is the most common cause of dementia.

Dementia isn’t a single illness; it is an overall term that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Disorders that are grouped under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal changes in the brain. These changes lead to a decline in thinking skills (known as cognitive abilities) that is severe enough to interfere with daily life and independent functioning. They also affect behaviour, feelings and relationships.

Vascular dementia, which results from microscopic bleeding and blockage of blood vessels in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia. Those who experience brain changes from different types of dementia concurrently have mixed dementia. There are many other things that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems.

Dementia is a syndrome — usually chronic or progressive in nature — that leads to a decline in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thoughts) beyond what might be expected from the ordinary consequences of biological aging.
It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, computation, learning capacity, language and judgment. Consciousness is not affected. Decreases in cognitive function are generally accompanied, and sometimes preceded, by changes in mood, emotional control, behavior, or motivation.

Signs and symptoms of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone in different ways, depending on the cause, other health conditions, and the person’s cognitive functioning before they got sick. Signs and symptoms related to dementia can be understood in three stages.

Early stages: the early stages of dementia are often overlooked because of their gradual onset. General symptoms may include:
lost track of time, forgetfulness, lost in familiar places.

Middle stage: as the dementia progresses to the middle stage, signs and symptoms become more pronounced and may include:
becomes confused when at home, becomes forgetful of recent events and people’s names, has increased difficulty in communicating, experiences changes in behavior, including wandering and asking questions over and over.

Late stages: the final stages of dementia are one of dependency and almost total inactivity. Serious memory impairment and physical signs and symptoms are more pronounced and may include:
has difficulty recognizing relatives and friends, becomes oblivious to time and place, has difficulty walking, has an increased need for help with self-care, and experiences changes in behavior that may escalate and include aggression.

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