Senility: is it senile dementia? See causes and risk factors

Aging is understood as a natural process that affects everyone. However, there are some situations of overload that may end up influencing a pathological condition that requires assistance, senility.

The biggest challenge for the next generations is in the area of ​​care for the elderly, so that, thus, they can discover possibilities to enjoy life with the highest quality.

Are you interested to know more? Then read the article below:


What is senility?

Senility can be defined as a condition that involves degenerative brain processes resulting from aging associated with chronic diseases, such as diabetes , hypertension or bad daily habits. These aging conditions require specific approaches and treatments.

In addition, it can be seen in changes in motor coordination, considerable memory loss and high irritability.

Another characteristic of senility can be seen through negative attitudes related to the future, to others or to yourself.

For the World Health Organization (WHO), a person is considered elderly aged 65 or over for developed countries and, for developing countries, 60 years.

However, senility is not exclusive to people of advanced age, in some cases it can happen prematurely.

The condition ends up weakening the patient, in addition to being accompanied by mental and physical disorganization, difficulties in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, loss of autonomy, among other changes.

This condition can be found in the CID in the classification R54 – Senility.

Senescence and senility: what is the difference?

Both terms are linked to aging, however, they can have very different impacts on health.

Senescence can be described as the normal changes in the evolution of an organism, that is, changes that the body goes through due to physiological processes.

In this way, they are directly related to their evolution over time, without any recognized disease mechanism.

In general terms, senescence can be considered aging, such as gray hair and wrinkles.

Senility, on the other hand, can be considered a complement to senescence, as conditions that affect the individual throughout life. For example, pathologies.

In other words, senility can be conceptualized as diseases or conditions that compromise the quality of life of people in different age groups and that are not necessarily common to all.

The differentiation between the frames is not always clear. For senescence to prevail, it is necessary to maintain some attitudes throughout life, among which we can mention:

  • Regular practice of physical activity;
  • Well-established and frequent social relationships;
  • Control of chronic diseases;
  • Balanced and nutritious food throughout life.

Senility is senile dementia?

There is some confusion when it comes to defining and understanding certain specific terms such as senility and senile dementia.

In order to facilitate your understanding, we will explain better what each term means and how to use them correctly.

Senile dementia

It can be considered as a set of medical conditions and diseases that affect a person’s cognitive health.

Typical symptoms of this condition include: communication difficulties, memory loss, personality changes and difficulties in formulating abstract thoughts.

An example of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which comprises 70% to 80% of all cases of dementia.

Dementia can also affect people who are in more advanced stages of Parkinson’s.

Read more: Blood test may indicate Alzheimer’s risk 16 years earlier


The term senility was commonly used to describe some type of decline in the health of an elderly person, both physical and cognitive.

Like dementia, senility can cause changes in mental health , such as memory loss.

Among the most common symptoms of this condition we can mention: change in posture, bone loss or decrease, decreased strength and loss of vision.



Aging can be considered as a natural process. However, when accompanied by overload situations, such as illness, stress or accidents, it can end up becoming a pathology that requires assistance.

In senility, it is possible to perceive structural and functional changes in the person’s behavior and way of interacting.

The changes that occur due to advancing age can be seen in both physical and behavioral characteristics.

In addition to biological changes, the quality of life and health maintained during aging are also associated with external changes, for example, changes, retirement, death of friends and relatives, among others.

Several conditions associated with senility can occur, such as pathologies (hypertension, diabetes), falls, trauma, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, progressive loss of cognitive abilities, among others.

Read more: Longevity: study traces the relationship between biotypes and life expectancy

Risk factors

Although some health conditions are related to age and genetics, many also develop due to the social and physical environment in which people are inserted.

Risk factors include:

  • Age group (the older, the greater the probability);
  • Lifestyle;
  • Bad eating habits;
  • Poor access to health services;
  • Little infrastructure at home;
  • Stress;
  • Immunological diseases;
  • High cholesterol levels;
  • Obesity;
  • Diabetes;
  • Alcohol intake;
  • Low education level.


Senility is considered a pathological condition and can arise with aging. Among the symptoms, we can mention:

Mood changes

The change in mood is related to loss of interest, pessimism, hopelessness, anguish, tiredness , fatigue . It is associated with natural changes that occur in the aging process, such as retirement or bereavement .

Progressive memory loss

This condition is associated with a loss of memories of recent events.

Some researchers believe that memory impairment is related to some initial manifestation of a more serious illness.

Therefore, attention to the elderly should be increased in order to identify whether this memory loss has any pathological cause.

Vascular lesions and cerebral infarctions

Also known as vascular dementia, this condition occurs when the brain is affected by a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular problem, among the most well-known is stroke.

This condition causes emotional instability and a great cognitive loss, and can even compromise daily tasks.

How is the diagnosis made?

Senility is a condition that requires professional evaluation (neurologist or geriatrician) as it is considered a degenerative brain disease.

However, this condition is associated with the symptoms and conditions mentioned earlier.

Generally, signs of senility can be perceived by family members, close friends or even the person who has the condition.

Due to memory loss and some cognitive functions, senility has a complicated diagnosis. To find the exact cause of the symptoms, you need to know the patient’s history, in addition to performing a lot of tests, among which we can mention:

  • Cognitive and neuropsychological exams;
  • Neurological evaluation;
  • Laboratory tests;
  • Brain scans.

Is there a cure?

No. However, there are treatments available to reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. The purpose of this treatment is to bring more well-being, in addition to reducing the progression of the condition.

What is the treatment for someone senile?


Treatment for senile dementia depends on the original cause. The resources can be used in order to encourage the patient to work on the memory, with exercises of recognition, dialogue and exchange of information.

Drug therapy

In some cases, it is necessary to introduce drug therapies to treat behavioral and cognitive problems of senility, which aim to slow the progression of symptoms.

Among the main substances are antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, nervous system stimulants and substances to slow the process of senile dementia.

Cognitive and family rehabilitation

It is considered a non-pharmacological intervention that aims to define a type of activity to be developed.

The purpose of this treatment is to recover skills, reactivate compromised cognitive functions and stimulate socialization.

The technique aims to identify specific functional deficits, in addition to restoring eating, hygiene and socialization habits.

By inserting cognitive rehabilitation into the daily routine with dedication, it is possible to notice an improvement in the patient, in addition to an increase in his independence and confidence.

In addition, the technique allows for an improvement in interpersonal relationships and an increase in self – esteem .

Neuropsychological rehabilitation

This technique aims to re-adapt reasoning in order to improve physical and mental functioning after an illness or injury, for example, after an automobile accident.

In addition, this process consists of making the patient more independent, in order to encourage him to live a happier and more socially active life.

The most suitable professional to perform this treatment is a psychologist, who applies alternative activities, targeted stimuli and specialized methods for each patient.


Some medications may be prescribed in order to slow down the process of senility or other degenerative brain diseases.

In some cases, side effects may occur and, therefore, the use always depends on medical advice and evaluation.

In addition, the use of medication can be made associated with psychotherapeutic or behavioral techniques.

  • Antipsychotics : They work by reducing or ameliorating the symptoms of some types of mental disorders.
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) : This class of medication works by relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Antidepressants:  They aim to prevent or relieve depression, in addition to regulating mood.
  • Drugs that improve cognition:  These drugs work by improving mental functions, lowering blood pressure and balancing mood.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

How to live with senility?

It is necessary to have patience and affection with those who face this condition, since some people can get depressed because they feel bad or out of place. This is the moment when family support is essential for the elderly to live together.

Some attitudes that can improve living with senility are:

  • Family support;
  • Medical follow-up;
  • Balanced feeding;
  • Practice physical exercises;
  • Alternative therapies;
  • Adapt the routine (improve access to avoid accidents, have a caregiver).


The changes that occur in the aging process, subject the body to several anatomical and functional changes. In some cases, there may be loss of functional capacity, shorter life expectancy, increased infections by the body and loss of the ability to interact.

Complications: what is the meaning in the patient’s life?

In most cases, old age is accompanied by cognitive loss, apathy, little or no movement, aggravating senility.

It is possible to perceive changes instituted by time, regardless of the harmful effect it may have on the organism. Among the possible complications we can mention:


It is possible to notice some symptoms related to depression in people who have a history of psychological difficulties, recent life crises, greater long-term memory deficits or complaints related to cognitive loss.

The diagnosis must be made by a specialist doctor, in this case a neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist.


This condition is characterized by a progressive loss of intellectual and cognitive functions, such as language, reasoning and memory.

Dementia tends to occur in people over 65 and is one of the main complaints related to the disability of the elderly.

Loss of autonomy

At this stage of the illness, the person may have difficulty remembering phone numbers and names, as well as having difficulties with some basic functions, such as choosing clothes. A caregiver may be needed in order to assist with trips to the bathroom, bathing and at mealtimes.

Economic and emotional dependence

It is possible to notice changes in your personality, emotions and the way you express your feelings.

In addition, the person who has this condition can have great difficulties walking, spending most of the time in bed.

This results in a limitation to perform daily activities, such as working, for example.

As a consequence, the patient ends up becoming financially dependent, worsening the situation.

How to prevent senility?


A study presented by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo highlighted that it is quite unusual for people to arrive at old age without showing symptoms of senility.

However, the doctor explains that there are ways to prolong a healthy life and prevent the onset of diseases.

Among the indications we can mention:

Maintain a balanced diet

It is possible to eat a low fat content when eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and nuts.

Read more: Exchanging animal proteins for vegetables reduces risk of disease

In addition, reducing the amount of red meat, sugar, butter, salt and processed foods can help fight heart disease, cancer , Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Add fiber to your menu

Fiber reduces cholesterol levels and the chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.

So whenever you can, prefer whole grain bread to white bread, add beans to your meals, apples to your fruit salad or any other source of fiber.

Read more: Why should we eat fiber and what is the ideal daily amount

Another characteristic of the fiber is that it prevents constipation, a common condition in older people. After the age of 50, the recommended is:

  • Men – intake of 30g per day;
  • Women – intake of 20g per day.

Stop smoking

Tobacco harms almost every organ in your body and can cause heart disease, cancer, gingivitis, lung problems and more.

It’s never too late to quit. In a year, the chances of heart disease are halved.

The diagnosis of senile dementia can be a stressful time for the family and the patient.

With that in mind, some practices and activities can alleviate symptoms and improve the cognitive performance of people who have this condition. Among the recommended options we can mention:

Stay active

Practicing physical activities such as walking, dancing, gardening or other activities, can delay the symptoms of dementia. In addition, getting in the habit of exercising can help with thinking problems, relieve anxiety or decrease depression.

Maintain a balanced diet

What you eat influences your health, either positively or negatively. Good eating habits can slow the process of senile dementia.

Among the foods indicated for a balanced diet we can mention:

  • Vegetables;
  • Nuts;
  • Bean;
  • Whole grains;
  • Fish;
  • Good oils and fats.

Exercise your brain

Invest in an old hobby, like music, crossword puzzles, playing an instrument or even practicing a religion of your choice.

These activities assist in resourcefulness and socialization during aging.

Do you have any family members at the best age or do you know someone who is approaching this stage? So share this article to let these people know what to do and the importance of staying healthy throughout life!