Establishing the limits of normal cerebral ageing and senile dementias

Karen Ritchie
1998 British Journal of Psychiatry  
Cognitive deterioration is so commonly observed in the elderly that it is considered by many to be an inevitable feature of the ageing process. Some researchers have proposed that the senile dementias are the inevitable end-point of this process, should the person live long enough. The differentiation of normal cerebral ageing from disease process is important in the selection of control groups for research, and also for clinical decision-making. In the latter context it is important to ask at
more » ... hat level of dysfunction intervention should occur, and whether this should be active or palliative. Cognitive change in the elderly is here considered from biological, neuropsychological and epidemiological viewpoints. Current research suggests that senile dementia is the result of the interplay of genetically determined disease processes, ageing-related decline which may be regulated at a cellular level, and neuronal repair and compensation mechanisms. Therefore, to debate whether dementia is simply an extension of a normal ageing process or not is probably too simplistic an approach.
doi:10.1192/bjp.173.2.97 pmid:9850218 fatcat:vaghehlx7nbsvdbgiolms2xmti