Mental illnesses are present in all age groups. However, in a large number of people, late-life is affected by dementia. While many people develop dementia as they age, this doesn’t mean that dementia is a natural part of aging. Millions of people reach late years without any signs of dementia or other mental illness.
Dementia is not a single disease but a term used to describe a group of symptoms that spin around a decline in cognitive functions, behavior, and social skills. This decline is severe enough to inhibit a person’s regular daily life and activities.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of progressive dementia; 60 to 80 percent of older adults with dementia struggles with this disease. Dementia is most common in people over the age of 65. Almost half of all people aged 85 or older have some form of dementia. However, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can also affect people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Some of the first signs of dementia involve memory loss, reasoning and judgment, self-management, problem-solving, a decline in communication and language skills, and the ability to focus and pay attention.
In the first stages of dementia, the person typically suffers from mild symptoms that are not very noticeable. However, in the most severe stage, the symptoms affect all aspects of the person’s life, until he or she becomes entirely dependent on others for primary care and activities of daily living (ADLs).