Am J Med. 2018 Oct;131(10):1161-1169. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.01.022. Epub 2018 Feb 6.


Dementia is any decline in cognition that is significant enough to interfere with independent, daily functioning. Dementia is best characterized as a syndrome rather than as one particular disease. The causes of dementia are myriad and include primary neurologic, neuropsychiatric, and medical conditions. It is common for multiple diseases to contribute to any one patient's dementia syndrome. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimer disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, are most common in the elderly, while traumatic brain injury and brain tumors are common causes in younger adults. While the recent decade has seen significant advancements in molecular neuroimaging, in understanding clinico-pathologic correlation, and in the development of novel biomarkers, clinicians still await disease-modifying therapies for neurodegenerative dementias. Until then, clinicians from varied disciplines and medical specialties are well poised to alleviate suffering, aggressively treat contributing conditions, employ medications to improve cognitive, neuropsychiatric, and motor symptoms, promote evidence-based brain-healthy behaviors, and improve overall quality of life for patients and families.

Keywords: Clinical care; Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Major neurocognitive disorder; Neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Cognition
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Patient Care*
  • Quality of Life*