Dementia is a clinical state characterized by loss of function in multiple cognitive domains. The most commonly used criteria for diagnoses of dementia is the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association). Diagnostic features include : memory impairment and at least one of the following: aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, disturbances in executive functioning. In addition, the cognitive impairments must be severe enough to cause impairment in social and occupational functioning. Importantly, the decline must represent a decline from a previously higher level of functioning. Finally, the diagnosis of dementia should NOT be made if the cognitive deficits occur exclusively during the course of a delirium.

There are many different types of dementia (approximately 70 to 80). Some of the major disorders causing dementia are: Degenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's Disease, Pick's Disease) Vascular Dementia (e.g., Multi-infarct Dementia) Anoxic Dementia (e.g., Cardiac Arrest) Traumatic Dementia (e.g., Dementia pugilistica [boxer's dementia]) Infectious Dementia (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) Toxic Dementia (e.g., Alcoholic Dementia)

7.9 % of all Canadians 65 years and older meet the criteria for the clinical diagnoses of dementia (Canadian Study on Health and Aging, 1994). Alzheimer's Disease is the major cause of dementia, accounting for 64% of all dementias in Canada for persons 65 and older and 75% of all dementias for persons 85 plus.

See Also:

Alzheimer's Disease |


American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, D.C, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.

Canadian Study of Health and Aging: study methods and prevalence of dementia. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1994: 150(6).

Submitted by Bonnie M. French Dictionary Home Page