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Please add the profiles of those with the diagnosis of Dementia.

If the specific type is known, please add the person to that project.

If there isn't a project for that diagnosis, please see: Cause of Death Projects needed???

Dementia = a progressive mental deterioration due to organic disease of the brain.

  • It is a broad category of brain diseases that cause a long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember that is great enough to affect a person's daily functioning.
    • Dementia is not a single disease, but a non-specific syndrome (i.e., set of signs and symptoms). Affected cognitive areas can be memory, attention, language, and problem solving.
    • Normally, symptoms must be present for at least six months to support a diagnosis.
      • Cognitive dysfunction of shorter duration is called delirium.
  • There is no cure for dementia, but the progression is typically slow.
    • Especially in later stages of the condition, subjects may be disoriented in time (not knowing the day, week, or even year), in place (not knowing where they are), and in person (not knowing who they and/or others around them are).
  • Dementia describes a broad range of brain diseases that cause the progressive decline in a person's ability to think and remember. Moreover, the loss of these abilities makes it increasingly difficult for people to function or care for themselves.
  • Dementia can be classified as either reversible or irreversible, depending upon the etiology of the disease. Fewer than 10% of cases of dementia are due to causes that may be reversed with treatment.

Some of the most common forms of dementia are:

Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Other less common causes include Huntington's disease, tertiary syphilis, HIV-associated dementia, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.   

Alzheimer's disease

  • Alzheimer's disease accounts for up to 50% to 70% of cases of dementia. The most common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are short-term memory loss and word-finding difficulties. People with Alzheimer's also have trouble with visual-spatial areas (for example they may begin to get lost often), reasoning, judgment, and insight. Insight refers to whether or not the person realizes he/she has memory problems.

Vascular dementia

  • Vascular dementia is the cause of at least 20% of dementia cases, making it the second most common cause of dementia. It is caused by disease or injury to blood vessels that damage the brain, including strokes. The symptoms of this dementia depend on where in the brain the strokes have occurred and whether the vessels are large or small. Multiple injuries can cause progressive dementia over time, while a single injury located in an area critical for cognition (i.e. hippocampus, thalamus) can lead to sudden cognitive decline.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a dementia that has the primary symptoms of visual hallucinations and "Parkinsonism." Parkinsonism is a term that describes a person with features of Parkinson's disease. This includes tremor, rigid muscles, and a face without emotion. The visual hallucinations in DLB are generally very vivid hallucinations of people and/or animals and they often occur when someone is about to fall asleep or just waking up. Other prominent symptoms include problems with attention, organization, problem solving and planning (executive function), and difficulty with visual-spatial function.

Frontotemporal dementia

  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a dementia that is characterized by drastic personality changes and language difficulties. In all FTD, the person has a relatively early social withdrawal and early lack of insight into the disorder. Memory problems are not a main feature of this disorder.

Other Neurological Conditions With Dementia late in Illness

  • There are many other medical and neurological conditions in which dementia only occurs late in the illness.
    • For example, a proportion of patients with Parkinson's disease develop dementia, though widely varying figures are quoted for this proportion.[citation needed] When dementia occurs in Parkinson's disease, the underlying cause may be dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer's disease, or both. Cognitive impairment also occurs in the Parkinson-plus syndromes of progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration (and the same underlying pathology may cause the clinical syndromes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration).
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions of the brain may affect cognition in the long term, including Behçet's disease, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, Sjögren's syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Although the acute porphyrias may cause episodes of confusion and psychiatric disturbance, dementia is a rare feature of these rare diseases.

Senility has been associated and confused with Dementia especially in the past, but it is an obsolete and imprecise term used to denote a pronounced loss of mental or physical control in the aged caused by physical or mental deterioration or a combination of the two. In senility, these changes are often extreme in nature. Certain types of psychosis are associated with senility.

  • The most basic definition of senile is "relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of, old age" (Merriam-Webster). Thus, the pure use of "senile" simply refers to old age. However, the use of the word senile is more commonly, but somewhat incorrectly, associated with a decline in mental abilities, such as memory loss or confusion, as people age.
  • In popular language, the terms senility and dementia often share the same space. But, in truth, senility may no longer have a place in the modern vocabulary given its inaccurate use and negative connotations. Dementia is now an accepted medical term.


Until the end of the 19th century, dementia was a much broader clinical concept. It included mental illness and any type of psychosocial incapacity, including conditions that could be reversed. Dementia at this time simply referred to anyone who had lost the ability to reason, and was applied equally to psychosis of mental illness, "organic" diseases like syphilis that destroy the brain, and to the dementia associated with old age, which was attributed to "hardening of the arteries."

In the early 1900s, “hardening of the arteries” was the diagnostic handle for dementia. The name progressed to “organic brain syndrome” in the 1950s, while the 1970s term “pseudodementia” was used to describe dementias caused by physiological conditions. All of these terms have now become outdated and have been replaced by the overarching term, dementia.

Dementia in the elderly was called senile dementia or senility, and viewed as a normal and somewhat inevitable aspect of growing old, rather than as being caused by any specific diseases. At the same time, in 1907, a specific organic dementing process of early onset, called Alzheimer's disease, had been described. This was associated with particular microscopic changes in the brain, but was seen as a rare disease of middle age.

Much like other diseases associated with aging, dementia was rare before the 20th century, although by no means unknown, due to the fact that it is most prevalent in people over 80, and such lifespans were uncommon in preindustrial times. Conversely, syphilitic dementia was widespread in the developed world until largely being eradicated by the use of penicillin after WWII.

By the period of 1913–20, schizophrenia had been well-defined in a way similar to today, and also the term dementia praecox had been used to suggest the development of senile-type dementia at a younger age. Eventually the two terms fused, so that until 1952 physicians used the terms dementia praecox (precocious dementia) and schizophrenia interchangeably. The term precocious dementia for a mental illness suggested that a type of mental illness like schizophrenia (including paranoia and decreased cognitive capacity) could be expected to arrive normally in all persons with greater age (see paraphrenia). After about 1920, the beginning use of dementia for what we now understand as schizophrenia and senile dementia helped limit the word's meaning to "permanent, irreversible mental deterioration." This began the change to the more recognizable use of the term today.

Globally, dementia affects 36 million people. About 10% of people develop the disorder at some point in their lives. It becomes more common with age. About 3% of people between the ages of 65–74 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84 and nearly half of those over 85 years of age. In 2013 dementia resulted in about 1.7 million deaths up from 0.8 million in 1990.

Famous People Who Died of Dementia

  • For additional info on these and more people, see:
  • Rosa Parks (1913-2005) was a civil rights activist and NAACP leader who became famous after she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person.
  • Sparky Anderson (1934-2010) was a Major League Baseball Manager who was the first manager to win the World Series in both the American League and National League.
  • Philippe Pétain (1856-1951) was the Marshal of France and eventually the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944.
  • Peter Breck (1929-2012) was an actor who was known for his role as Doc Holliday in the classic TV series "Maverick," and also as the hot-tempered Nick in the 1960s Western series "The Big Valley."
  • Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981-1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967-1975).
  • Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 - May 14, 1987), Margarita Carmen Cansino, better known as Rita Hayworth, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth.
  • Sugar Ray Robinson - (born Walker Smith Jr., May 3, 1921 - April 12, 1989) was a professional boxer.
  • Abe Burrows - (December 18, 1910 - May 17, 1985) Abe Burrows was a noted American humorist, author, and director for both the radio and the stage, particularly Broadway.
  • Barry Goldwater (January 2, 1909 - May 29, 1998) was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona (1953-1965, 1969-87) and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election.
  • Peter Michael Falk (September 16, 1927 - June 23, 2011) was a retired American actor, best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo.
  • Malcolm Young (1953 – ): Malcolm Young, legendary guitarist and co-founder of rock band AC/DC, has been playing guitar since 1969.
  • Glenn Campbell (1936 – ): Country singer and guitarist, Glen Campbell, announced in 2011 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • Charles Bronson (1921 – 2003): Charles Bronson, star of “Death Wish” and numerous other action films, spent the last years of his life debilitated from Alzheimer’s.
  • Estelle Getty (1923 – 2008): Estelle Getty is best known for her role as Sophia in the “Golden Girls.” She had Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis. Getty died with Dementia with Lewy bodies on July 22, 2008, three days before her 85th birthday. She is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
  • James Doohan (1920 – 2005): Recognized for his military career and known for acting as “Scotty” in “Star Trek,” James Doohan had an incredible acting career before announcing his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and dying in 2005.

Jump back to Cause of death portal This project is found under the heading: Memory Disorders.