History on a shoestring

  • In 1726 dementia was first included in an English dictionary with the description: ‘extinction of the imagination and judgement’.
  • In France and Spain, during the same period, dementia was described as ‘craziness, extravagance’.
  • In the 18th century dementia was seen as chronic and irreversible. It could touch people of all ages and was seen as an end stage of numerous other psychological problems.
  • In the 19th century, the description developed to ‘cognitive impairments’ related to aging and still seen as irreversible.
  • Alois Alzheimer1907: Alois Alzheimer (on the right) reported the first case of Alzheimer: a 51-year old woman. At autopsy,  Alzheimer found characteristic amyloide plaques in the woman’s brain.
  • In 1910 Alzheimer’s Disease is first mentioned in a medical hand book.
  • Nowadays, the term dementia describes a large group of diseases that have a decrease in brain function in common. Think of functions like memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and emotional responses.
  • Slowly, we more frequently hear the word rehabilitation in relation to dementia. There are increasingly more signs that with the right stimulation people with dementia may regain or longer maintain function.