Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of progressive neurocognitive disorders. It is a change in brain function that significantly impacts daily life including thinking skills, sensory processing, problem-solving, initiating and sequencing of tasks, memory and much more.
There are numerous types of dementia the most common are Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular dementia (VAD), lewy body dementia (LBD), and frontotemporal degeneration (FTD).
Neurocognitive disorders (NCD) refer to a group of diseases in which the primary clinical deficit is in cognitive function. NCDs are those in which impaired cognition represents a decline of previously attained level of functioning.
NCD includes Alzheimer’s disease, vascular NCD, dementia with lewy bodies, dementia due to Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal degeneration, and various other underlying diseases.
According to the DSM-5, a diagnostic handbook used by health care professionals, “The term dementia is retained in DSM-5 for continuity and may be used in settings where physicians and patients are accustomed to this term. Although dementia is the customary term for disorders like the degenerative dementias that usually affect older adults, the term neurocognitive disorder is widely accepted and often preferred for conditions affecting younger individuals…”
Dementia is subsumed under the newly named entity major neurocognitive disorder. A less severe level of cognitive impairment is referred to as mild neurocognitive disorder.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which a person experiences a slight – but noticeable – decline in mental abilities (memory and thinking skills) compared with others of the same age. The decline in abilities is noticeable by the person experiencing them or by others who interact with the person, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with normal daily life and activities.
"I get asked all the time about the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and this is how I explain it. “Let’s talk ice cream. Everyone loves ice cream. Remember ice cream is not a flavor, it’s the word used to group all the flavors together. Alzheimer’s is like saying chocolate; it’s a flavor of dementia. The 2 most common dementia flavors are Alzheimer & Vascular Dementia. I have a different flavor. I have CTE which is the form NFL football players develop from many head injuries. CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. You can see why they call it CTE.”