Dementia typically comes in various forms; one of them believed to be senile dementia. Generally, this is a term that was in the past used to describe all types of dementia.
This is no longer the case since senility is no longer in use as a diagnosis for dementia. Before going deeper into this illness, it is better to start by describing what senility is.
What is Senile or Senile Dementia?
Senility is regarded as the deterioration of the mind and body, which usually comes with advanced aging.
A majority of senile persons usually experience a mental decline or decrease in cognitive abilities.
This can be characterized by an individual’s inability to recall information, concentrate, and judge situations in the proper way.
Sadly, the word “senile” for the longest time had an undesirable connotation largely due to a lack of understanding of the challenges that come with growing older.
This leads to people using the word in the wrong way.
Meaning, making it sound like a senile person is one who is dazed, confused, or unable to function well, rather than look at it as an authentic health condition.
Nowadays, we do not use the term senile to describe older people anymore.
The term senile has also been used in combination with other phrases.
These include senile dementia, senile plaques, and senile Alzheimer’s. It has also been added as a descriptor of other medical conditions like senile osteoporosis or senile arthritis.
In such a context, senile usually refers to the age (older) when the condition started developing and has nothing to do with cognitive function or decline.
Several symptoms associate with senility such as:
- Wrinkled skin
- Changes in posture
- Reduced muscle strength
- Stiffness of joints
- Brittle bones or bone loss
- Changes in the eye’s muscles and lens
- Brittle bones
- Hardened arteries
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Childish behavior at times
- Impaired judgment
- Memory loss
A majority of the physical changes are attributed to growing older. On the other hand, we can assign psychological changes to the aging of cortical brain cells.
Senility in most cases applies to mental decline.
Factors That Cause Senility
We are familiar with many causes that can lead to senility, including:
1. Alzheimer’s disease
This tops the list when it comes to the most common senility causes. In short, Alzheimer’s disease usually begins with challenges learning and also recalling recent events.
2. Brain disorders
A person who suffers from brain disorders is a potential candidate for senility. The disorders can be caused by anything from illness, infection, or trauma.
3. Medical Conditions
An array of medical conditions is also documented to cause senility. These can include illnesses such as Pick’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, stroke, Huntington disease, AIDS, Down syndrome, and many others.
Persons who undergo major depression are also at risk of senility.
5. Alcohol and drug abuse
People who overindulge in alcohol and abuse drugs are prone to senility. Likewise, individuals who inhale paint or any other substances so that they can become high are also at an increased risk of developing senility.
6. Dehydration and over-medication
These are factors that can make a person exhibit some senility signs which most of the time lead to a false diagnosis of dementia.
Going by the signs above it is obvious that some of the factors that lead to senility are similar to those of dementia.
For this reason, it is important for everyone who shows signs of dementia to get tested by a professional first to confirm the diagnosis.
Now that you have a little background on what senility is all about, let’s jump back to senile dementia.
What exactly is senility?
Judging by the past use of this term, it is safe to say that it is a mental deterioration that is typically associated with old age.
There are two models of this type of dementia:
1. The one that comes because of Alzheimer’s type dementia (atrophy).
2. The second one is usually the result of vascular problems, mostly strokes.
Primary Differences between Dementia and Senility
By now, it should be quite clear that senility and dementia are two different medical conditions although many may use the terms interchangeably.
Dementia is a medical term that refers to a wide range of brain conditions that can lead to a progressive decline in how a person remembers things and thinks.
In the end, the loss of these abilities can make it increasingly challenging for individuals to care for themselves and function as before.
Dementia is certainly not senility because serious mental decline is not part of the normal aging process.
Several causes can lead to dementia, such as:
- Vascular dementia
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Mixed dementia
- Huntington’s disease, etc.
When you look at the causes of both senility and dementia, there may be some similarities but there are also some major differences.
Most of the comparable causes exist because both conditions typically affect seniors as they grow older.
On one hand, dementia can be quite seriously messing up with a person’s reasoning skills, visual perception, communication skills, focusing abilities and memory.
This is an illness that can turn your life upside down.
Senility rarely interferes with a person’s daily life, especially if one is proactive in slowing down or minimizing the decline process.
Persons who have senility may occasionally struggle to remember people they know, things, events or struggle to find the right words to use at a particular moment.
While people with dementia may also go through this, it tends to happen all the time rather than occasionally as is the case with senility.
A person with senility may end up remembering things later and most of them can use organizational tools and notes successfully.
This does not usually happen with individuals who have dementia, especially if they are in the final stages of the disease.
The loved ones of a person who has senility may not have to worry about his or her memory issues.
The situation is different from dementia cases because family members continuously worry about an individual’s memory.
It is also important to note that another difference between senility and dementia is the fact that dementia is an accepted medical term.
Senility, however, is not yet accepted as an international medical term.
Similarities between Senility and Dementia
Because senile dementia is no longer a thing, it is wise to look at the conditions separately.
Even though the two conditions are not synonymous, they do share quite a few similarities, including:
1. One of the major similarities between these two is the fact that they normally affect people who are above the age of 65. This is not to say that younger individuals cannot get dementia or senility but a majority of the cases happen as people grow older.
2. Both dementia and senility do not have sure treatment methods. When talking about treatment for senility, it is safe to say that there is no cure for normal aging.
However, there are a few things that people can do to stave off its severity and decline.
These include things like keeping physically active, eating a balanced diet, and engaging the mind, among many others to stay sharp.
The same case applies to dementia because there is still no cure for the disease.
Physicians can, however, prescribe drugs and lifestyle changes that can help one cope better with their current situation.
3. Both tend to become worse as the years go by. Persons with progressive dementia usually experience a decline with time.
This happens at different paces for different individuals. With some, the decline may occur fast while others may remain semi-independent for many years.
Senility can get worse as well. It primarily happens when an individual stays for a long time without taking hands-on measures to put a halt or reduce the decline process.
4. In the end, candidates who have senility and individuals who have dementia may both end up in senior care homes such as assisted living homes or nursing care.
This happens when a person’s independence is compromised; thus, needs extra help to go about their daily activities.
5. A person who has dementia may experience changes in mental health like the decline in judgment or memory loss. This can also happen to an elderly individual with senility because the condition also leads to a decline in adult’s cognitive and physical health.
It’s not hard to see why senile dementia was a term that they commonly used in the past, seeing that senility and dementia have a few similarities.
Experiencing senility signs can be alarming and scary. As soon as you struggle to remember where you kept your keys or think of a word while having a conversation, you may immediately think that you are at the onset of dementia.
This is not always the case.
To have peace of mind, it is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible. It is the only way to get a proper diagnosis so that you can now take the right steps to stay fitter and sharper to thrive in your golden years.
Also worth noting is that a person can have dementia without being senile.
The opposite scenario is also true where an individual may experience senility without getting dementia.