The term ‘dementia’ typically refers to chronic medical conditions that cause progressive declines in memory and other cognitive/behavioral skills. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline, accounting for more than two-thirds of all dementia cases. Still, there are many other medical conditions that can result in dementia, including, but not limited to:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Semantic Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Creutfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Corticobasal degeneration
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy

Neuropsychological evaluations can be very helpful in terms of evaluating for possible dementia and ruling out other causes for an individual’s cognitive difficulties. First, it is important to consider that at least some cognitive declines are to be expected as we get older. Specialized neuropsychological assessments can help differentiate between what would be considered a normal, healthy aging process versus difficulties that are suggestive of something else going on that is more pronounced. Also, formal neuropsychological assessment can help discriminate between potential causes of difficulties an individual is experiencing and clarify a diagnosis that will inform potential treatments or supports. Finally, repeated assessments often are requested to monitor an individual’s functioning over time to determine the rate of decline, what areas are remaining stable, and hopefully, which areas have been responsive to treatment.