Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Dementia is characterized by progressive decline in an alert individual, leading to loss of independence in day-to-day functioning. It is a generic term for a condition that has various causes and hence myriad clinical presentations. It has to be distinguished from age-related cognitive decline, depression and delirium all of which are common in the elderly population. Detailed history and mental status examination are necessary to identify dementia, fit it into one of the various bedside classifications and pursue the differential diagnosis. This teaching review summarizes current information on definition, differential diagnosis and classification of dementia and presents a brief elaboration of bedside cognitive testing pertaining to dementia. A bird's eye view of the profiles of various dementia subtypes is also provided so that after reading this article the reader will able to recognize dementia, conduct clinical examination to identify the characteristic cognitive profile and formulate the differential diagnosis with confidence.