Is there a difference between dementia and senility? The simple answer is that there is no difference between dementia and being senile. However, the simple answer doesn’t address the whole issue, so it’s more complicated. Dementia is the medically accepted term for diminished cognitive ability, including memory loss, and senility or senile dementia are nonmedical terms. Senility used to be the term used to describe someone who was believed to have gone crazy. However, advancements in medicine and science have determined that these patients weren’t going crazy but rather losing cognitive abilities.
Types of Dementia
Many diseases and conditions cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain cancer, and Huntington’s disease. There is also vascular dementia, which is caused by brain damage, often resulting from a severe stroke. Dementia is often contributed as a characteristic of old age. However, dementia is not a guaranteed prognosis with older age. There are plenty of older people who have suffered no loss of cognitive abilities. For the most part, dementia is irreversible. The prognosis for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s is not excellent.
It is also important to remember there is a significant difference between dementia and memory loss. Memory loss can be temporary due to an injury or trauma, and dementia is a long-term, deteriorating state. While there are no cures for the diseases that cause dementia, many clinical trials are working on treatments or medications that can slow the progression of the disease and the symptoms like dementia. While memory loss can be temporary or nonprogressive, it still needs to be taken seriously. Memory loss can be caused by a wide range of conditions, disorders, and injuries.
Prevention of Dementia
Unfortunately, many of the diseases that lead to dementia can’t be prevented. There is a heredity factor for some, and doctors don’t know yet what exactly causes it. As a patient reaches an advanced age, the best thing they can do is maintain regular doctor’s appointments because early detection is the best defense. For example, going to the cardiologist regularly will help detect risk factors associated with a stroke or heart attack that could cause permanent damage.
Another way to prevent possible dementia or memory loss is with self-awareness and compassion. Anxiety and depression can lead to memory loss and an inability to maintain new memories or thoughts. With adulthood comes a variety of stressors that can cause anxious thoughts every day, and even temporary stress can have a negative impact on present thoughts. CBT therapy can help you develop new coping strategies for those anxious thoughts and teach you to set goals for your mental and physical health. CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, and it is designed to change the way you approach problems or stressful situations. CBT provides you with a roadmap for decision making, goal setting, and dealing with anxiety disorder, severe depression, sadness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions and disorders that can impact your mental state and abilities.
Many years ago, senility was the catch-all term for people who had mental issues. Medicine was not advanced enough to identify what was wrong, so everyone was grouped into this single category. However, there has been enough medical research that doctors can now identify different reasons or causes for symptoms such as dementia and memory loss, and the symptoms can be treated based on the condition.
Patients are no longer locked away when there are concerns about their safety in public or living independently. There are specialized long-term care facilities with staff trained to help people living with dementia. They are offered programs and activities that will stimulate their mental abilities and challenge them to live at the mental function they are capable of for as long as they can.