Memory Deficits and Aging

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Memory loss affects the elderly population in general. It also affects their functional ability and independence as integral individuals. A most common form of memory deficit is dementia. Dementia is a progressive disease which has these marked symptoms: irreversible loss of memory, cognitive difficulties, speech and mobility limitations, disorientation, and marked changes in personality.

Introduction


Memory impairment among the elderly often begins casually and progresses consistently leading to a disproportionately impaired cognitive symptom over time. By the middle part of the disorder, the memory is impaired but other types of cognitive functions such as language, visuo-spatial abilities, and key executive functions are also impaired. In its advanced stages, the patient ultimately becomes disoriented to time, place, and finally, persons. The advanced and latter stages will then require specialized medical care and attention to address the daily functioning of the elderly.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV; APA 1994) defined dementia as "the progress of multiple cognitive deficits that covers memory impairment and one of any of these cognitive disturbances: aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, or a disturbance in executive functions" (p. 134). Cognitive disturbance as manifested in dementia pertains to a decline from a higher normal level of daily functioning to a severely impaired level which seriously affects an individual's discharge of his/her social, family or work duties. The prevalence of dementia increases significantly with age, and approximately 6% of individuals over age 65 and 20% over age 80 suffer from a a disabling degree of dementia (Plum 1987).
Dementia and amnesia are ...
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