Difference between Dementia and Senility

Dementia and senility are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in cognitive function, while senility is a specific type of dementia that is associated with aging.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, judgment, and other cognitive abilities over time.

Symptoms − Forgetfulness is a hallmark symptom of dementia, and it worsens dramatically over time. It's also possible for people to go crazy and stop believing in the world around them. Delusions, paranoia, and maybe even hallucinations are all possible. People's personalities might shift, and they could start behaving in strange ways.

Diagnosis − A mental status assessment is required to establish the extent of the dysfunction. Dementia patients are also required to take a memory test. A person's ability to benefit from imaging testing depends on the underlying reason of their dementia.

Causes − Dementia can be brought on by many different things, such as old age, genetic changes, or infections. Mental issues are a potential side effect of syphilis-causing bacterial infection. Dementia is an invariable consequence of exposure to prions like those responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Dementia can occur from both Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease genes. Dementia can also be caused by issues with the brain's blood vessels.

Risk factors and complications − Factors that increase vulnerability include age, certain genetic predispositions (such as those for Huntington's disease or the aberrant protein linked with Alzheimer's disease), and other medical conditions. Dementia risk also increases in the presence of traumatic brain damage. When the sickness worsens over time, the complication almost always results in death.

Prevention and treatment − Preventing dementia due to hereditary or unknown causes is difficult, if not impossible. Nonetheless, preventing the spread of diseases that might lead to syphilis or prion disease may be useful. Dementia is progressive and cannot be cured, however, prescription medications can assist with symptoms like memory loss.

What is Senility?

Senility is an archaic term for the gradual deterioration of a person's physical and mental abilities that comes with advancing age and may be an early sign of dementia.

Symptoms − Alzheimer's disease and other forms of senility are associated with memory loss. Due to natural brain changes associated with ageing, some degree of memory decline is to be expected; mild senility may not be indicative of a serious underlying problem. But, if the memory loss worsens significantly over time, it may be a sign of senile dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Diagnosis − The doctor will conduct a cognitive exam and order other tests, such as an MRI, to rule out other potential causes.

Causes − As the brain's cortex shrinks with age, mild memory loss typically occurs as we become older. But, for some, senility takes the form of Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia. Scientists attribute this to a mutation in a gene that regulates a protein in the brain.

Factors of danger and possible complications − Senility is associated with advancing age, which is also when many forms of dementia initially manifest. If the senility is a sign of dementia, the prognosis is not favourable, and the person's condition will continue to worsen.

Treatment and prevention − Inasmuch as brain volume decline is a natural consequence of becoming older, senility is notoriously difficult to avert. But, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an excellent starting point for avoiding memory loss as you age. If a senior's senility is caused by dementia, treatment may be required.

Differences: Dementia and Senility

The following table highlights the major differences between Dementia and Senility: −





Dementia is a medical condition characterised by a slow but steady deterioration in cognitive abilities over time.

Senility is characterised by an all- around deterioration in a person's physiological, cognitive, and physical health.


Delusions, paranoia, psychosis, and hallucinations are other common signs of dementia, along with memory loss that increases over time.

Senility is characterised by memory loss, which may or may not grow considerably worse with time.

Physical Features

Dementia can be diagnosed using a neurological exam, mental status tests, and sometimes imaging studies.

Senility can be diagnosed by a test of memory and overall cognitive ability.

Habitat and Diet

Infections like neurosyphilis or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vascular issues, Alzheimer's disease, and Lewy body dementia are only few of the various causes of dementia.

Although mild alterations in cognition linked with ageing and brain atrophy may account for some senility, severe symptoms may point to dementia and its underlying causes.


Gene mutations, including those responsible for Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases, have been linked to some forms of dementia.

There are no identifiable gene changes that bring in old age.


In conclusion, dementia and senility are not the same thing. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in cognitive function, while senility is a specific type of dementia that is associated with aging.

The main difference between the two is the cause of the cognitive decline, with dementia being caused by a variety of factors and senility being caused by the natural aging process. Additionally, dementia is often treatable while senility is not. It is important to understand the difference between the two terms in order to better understand and address cognitive decline in older adults.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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