Dysfunction of the cerebral cortex in the brain can lead to dementia, a progressive condition which appears as functions in the brain diminish. The condition and its symptoms are not a normal part of aging. There are many causes of the condition, and surgery can treat some, such as tumors. In most cases, however, treatment can ease the symptoms of dementia, but there is currently no cure for the disease itself.
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Dementia is not the same thing as Alzheimer's, though there are similar symptoms. There are seven stages of symptoms, starting with normal functioning and leading to severe cognitive decline, where the person with dementia cannot speak or recognize family members. The first stage includes normal forgetfulness associated with aging. Difficulty concentrating and occasionally getting lost make up the second stage. As the condition develops further, people with dementia lose the ability to retain recent memories. Mid-stage dementia is indicated by a loss of the ability to perform the daily actions such as bathing and eating, and memory problems are significant at this point. Loss of most basic actions from self-care to bladder and bowel control is part of the next-to-last stage, which often includes clear cognitive limitations such as the inability to count down from 10. Personality changes and delusions are common at this stage. Finally, people with dementia lose the ability to speak, along with many physical abilities. The lifespan of a person with dementia is generally 8-20 years from onset.
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