What is Senile Dementia?

Vintage wine gets better with age, unlike senile dementia which affects the old

Should we use the term Senile dementia?

What is senile dementia? Is it a dementia for old people?

Much more information is know about forgetfulness and memory problems associated with aging amongst older people nowadays.

In days gone by not much was known about memory loss, confusion and dementias  in the elderly.

It was thought that it was a condition that eventually all old people would get and was a normal condition associated with ageing.

This was known as senile dementia. This is because senile is another word for old.

Better Understanding of senile dementia

Nowadays, with our greater knowledge of memory loss and how it affects the brain, we do not refer or use the term “Senile dementia”. It is an outdated reference term to memory loss and confusion amongst the old.  Although I’m sure when used it is not being disrespectful to the person to refer to them as “old”

There are many reasons a person may develop memory loss and these reasons are as yet, not fully understood. So we use the word “dementia” as an umbrella term for many conditions that affect the brain’s ability to remember.  We can also break down the term into smaller categories of diseases, with Alzheimer’s being the most common.

Specific causes of the disease

We use the disease that is causing the dementia to describe the form of condition the person is suffering from, such as vascular or Lewy bodies but senile dementia is not a term that falls into these categories as getting old is not a disease.

  •  In general, we would use the word “dementia” to describe people over 65  years of age with memory loss problems and the term “early onset dementia” for people under the age of 65 years who suffer from memory problems

If you would like to know more have a look at this page – different kinds of dementia


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  • pam robson

    I know there is nothing anybody can do, but my problem is what can i do about my 97 yr. old mother who is obviously suffering from dementia.
    Her memory is almost gone altogether. She repeats herself over and over and says things that really don’t make sense.
    In lots of ways she is amazing, doing all her own personal care, cooking her food (which is a big worry). She will not have ready meals that could be put into oven. She boils things on top of the cooker. However, she is so so lonely. I do all her heavy housework, garden, washing, paperwork, phone calls, appointments etc.etc.
    I have suggested she have somebody come for an hour 3-4 days per week for a chat and cuppa, but no way does she want strangers coming in she says.
    I would love to move her to sheltered housing, but i cannot force the issue, its her life and her choice at the end of the day. However she is not a happy lady, always talking about taking ‘tablets’ to finish herself off.
    She would like me there 24/7, but that is just not possible to do.

    This situation must arise quite often. Any ideas how i can deal with it.

    • Hello Pam,
      You sound like a very strong woman and well done for coping so far. Anybody involved with caring for a person with dementia will have an idea of how difficult it can be dealing with a person who refuses any suggestions you make and is very stubborn.
      Have you tried suggesting to your mum that she visit an elderly day care centre. This is a place where your mum can go for the day and take part in many activities. Many centers specialize in dementia care so are well equipped and trained to deal with people who have dementia and the difficulties they may have. Many centres will pick up people from their own homes and then return them later in the day. (usually before teatime ) They are normally given their dinner at the centre. They are great places to allow social interaction between carers and sufferers of dementia.
      Maybe if you could get your mother to go to a day care centre once or twice a week you could then get outside help such as cleaners and so to do the cleaning work when she was at the centre.
      As always i would suggest talking to your local council services about help you could get. If you have a local dementia cafe I would suggest you visit them because they are great place for you to talk to other people who are in a similar position to yourself as well as people who specialize in areas that could provide great help and advise, and best of all they are free to attend.

      • pam robson

        Thank you for your reply John
        My initial reaction is that I don’t think she would go to a day care situation.
        She won’t go to the Age UK pop in we have locally and she certainly won’t go anywhere on the dial-a-ride scheme so I cannot see her going on a mini bus to a day care centre, although it seems a good idea and I will definiatly look into it.
        She is her own worst enemy really. I will give our local council a ring on Tuesday to see if there is indeed any day care service before I put the suggestion to her.
        Once again, thank you.

  • Eddy

    If someone uses the term “senile dementia” are they being disrespectful? I used the term last week to refer to one of our clients and I was told off. Please can you let me know, it led to a massive arguement between me and my boss.
    I was told to use the word “old aged dementia”
    Is my boss being politically correct or is this right?
    Please help


    • Hello Edd,
      Not sure really. I suppose being politically correct your boss is right from what i gather but im not totally sure. I still see the term widly used, I even saw a report on the BBC the other day that used the term “senile dementia”
      Senile means “disease of old age” so the term “senile dementia” could be a reference to memory loss as a result of aging. Is this then the wrong term to use?
      I suppose in this day and age that it could be seen by some as being incorrect but I personally dont see it as being disrespectful.
      I dont think its something worth falling out about though.

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