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Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia Disorders

  • Sarah Seligman RycroftEmail author
  • Tania Giovannetti
Chapter

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementia disorders are characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities that interferes with daily functioning. Cognitive symptoms consist of progressive decline in memory, executive function, judgment, language, comprehension, and visuospatial ability, and cognitive profiles differ across dementia disorders (e.g., AD, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, etc.). Dementia disorders are also associated with a range of neuropsychiatric symptoms and physical symptoms. Functionally, dementia disorders negatively impact the ability to maintain employment and engage in social activity, and conversely employment history and social participation have been shown to influence risk for dementia. Additionally, declining ability to complete daily activities such as grooming and meal preparation is a hallmark feature of dementia that is associated with negative outcomes. Methods of assessing everyday functioning include self- and informant-report as well as performance-based measures of everyday tasks that provide more objective assessment facilitated by standardized coding schemes. Everyday action research has revealed relations between cognitive/neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional decline in dementia and has highlighted the relevance of early functional changes to illness progression. Further, heterogeneity across dementia disorders in the extent and type of functional deficit has led to the development of a neurocognitive model that may help clarify the conceptualization and treatment of specific functional deficits. There are few empirical treatments to improve everyday function, but interventions targeting functional deficits and environmental adaptations have shown promise. Finally, racial/ethnic differences in dementia rates underscore the importance of a lifespan approach to examining socioeconomic, educational, and other lifestyle factors that interact with neurobiological components of risk and resilience and impact cognitive test performance.

Keywords

Dementia Cognition Everyday function Activities of daily living (ADL) Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) Neuropsychiatry Cultural factors 

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© Springer-Verlag New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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