Dementia refers to a group of symptoms that result in the loss of behavioral abilities and cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. While there is currently no cure, experts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are diligently working to learn more about dementia and related disorders to develop ways to treat, prevent, and ultimately stop neurodegenerative diseases that affect an estimated 47 million people worldwide.
From developing an effective medicine for treating Alzheimer’s symptoms and investigating which foods may prevent dementia, to researching Alzheimer’s on the molecular level, Hebrew University researchers are unrelenting in their efforts to discover more about this complex set of diseases.
Dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time. Knowing the signs and symptoms of dementia is key to early detection and diagnosis, which in turn can lead to expanded treatment and intervention options as well as improved quality of life.
While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of these core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia: memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, people with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments, or traveling out of the neighborhood.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults, accounting for 60-80% of cases, but there are many forms of dementia. According to to the National Institute on Aging, other dementias include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular dementia. It is common for people to have mixed dementia—a combination of two or more types of dementia. Globally, dementia cases are projected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and the number of sufferers is estimated to triple by 2050.