The diagnosis of dementia can be made if certain clinical criteria are met.


Diagnostic features of dementia - The presence of a progressive deterioration that (all of the following):

(1) affects 2 or more cognitive functions (see below)

(2) represents a decline from the previous level of functioning (baseline).

(3) results in functional impairment.

(4) is not due:

(4a) delirium

(4b) depression or other mental illness

(4c) acute substance use


Cognitive functions include:

(1) memory (recall of old and/or new information)

(2) complex task performance (apraxia)

(3) object recognition from sensory inputs (agnosia)

(4) language (aphasia)

(5) visuospatial awareness

(6) executive functions (planning, organizing, judging, sequencing, abstract reasoning)


Variations in the definition of dementia:

(1) The DSM-IV criteria requires that memory be affected while others do not.

(2) Some criteria require the dementia to be present for a period of time before the diagnosis is made.

(3) Some criteria include behavioral disturbances.

Age of Patient


<= 65 years


> 65 years



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