Ataxis ca late onset
Does it mean dementia??

Is anyone affected with dementia ?.


ca= cerebellar ataxia

late onset = late beginning in the course of life. When your ataxia starts when you are 50 this is late onset. When it is starting when you are in the age of 25, this is not late onset.

Dementia is another thing, - see on

e. g a high percentage of people over 90 have a mild dementia.

kind regards,


Hi Bernard -I know of people who think this, too…must be explained that way or something weird like that.

Why do you ask? Have you been having some difficulties with thinking and memory? Quite a few do get certain problems, but they're not usually true Dementia.

Most forms of Ataxia whether genetic or sporadic don't cause Dementia. However, some early onset genetic forms can cause mental retardation, and a few genetic forms (SCA17, SCA26) can cause Dementia.

Generally, the brain is affected in certain areas such as in conditions which affect the front, middle or back of the brain. Dementia affects the front and sometimes sides of the brain. Some conditions affect two areas, so it tends to be middle and front, or middle and back. Most Ataxias only affect the cerebellum at the back, and a few also affect the middle part of the brain (causing symptoms like Parkinson's Disease or Dystonia). Only a few affect the brain more widely (like SCA17). But this is why most Ataxia patients don't usually get true dementias.

Aside from this, some other conditions such as PSP, which can start with Cerebellar Ataxia, can also affect the brain more widely, and can cause memory loss. One late-onset Ataxia, which comes with Tremor (called FXTAS), has been also known to cause Dementia, and so on.

Having said all this, there are milder forms of "cognitive impairment" which can occur in Ataxia. It seems that parts of the cerebellum link with other areas of the brain, such as those which control attention, word recall, as well as emotions, and so on. It doesn't class as a proper dementia though, and people normally do well on tests for cognitive function.

So, the symptoms of this show up as intermittent forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention, multitasking, and intermittent difficulty with finding certain words. Read more about it here:

I have my own problems in this area. For instance, when talking about the microwave (see, I remember what the word is now!), I couldn't think of the word for "microwave". So, I had to describe it instead. Sometimes when chatting, I not only can't remember what I was going to say next, but even lose the whole plot of a conversation, and have to be reminded what we were even talking about. I have difficulty paying attention also, and sometimes I can't watch TV programs as I can't follow it and keep up with the plot the way I always used to, and I also have the occasional forgetfulness - probably more than for others my age. But it's still not Dementia, and for all these symptoms, I still score full marks (30 out of 30) on the Standardised Mini Mental State Exam (see next post).

If anyone is concerned about Dementia, see the Alzheimer's Society website. In your case Bruce, the local Belfast office is at:

You can also see from their Dementia Map that Northern Ireland has the best rates for diagnosis and treatment in Britain, so you live in the right place to get the best help if you ever get such a problem. Belfast itself is rated as No.2 in the UK! See:



Meanwhile, for anyone concerned that they might be developing Dementia, try doing the Standardised Mini-Mental State Exam (SMMSE):

It's best if someone you trust asks the questions, as some test if someone understands and can obey spoken and written instructions. But you can do it on yourself if you already know you can do those things in everyday life. The scoring range is as follows:

25-30 = Normal

21-24 = Mild Cognitive Impairment

10-20 = Moderate Dementia

0-9 = Severe Dementia.

So, if you score over 25, you're okay. Try it again in 6 and 12 months, and if it doesn't change to scores below 20, then it's probably not Dementia, even if you do have some difficulty paying attention, have a little forgetfulness, or occasionally find it difficult to name words.

Hope this helps.

Abs :-)

In the pedagogic and disability thought sense these problems can all be subsumed under "learning disability". Or is there any other opinion on that?

It s a common error to believe that you would be "stupid" with a such disability (but, of course, in many times very reduced - e.g. with Alzheimers disease in the endstage).

My first online "meeting" with a self help group of persons with severe learning disabilty was in the nineteen century when our Viennese self help group (psychiatric concerns) was offered to get a computer. I was really impressed about the intellectual capacities from the leader of this group who corresponded with me, - nothing from stupid. But perhaps somehow disabled in the "normal world". By email he was not. I thing it is more the way you learn which is different from this of others. For example when your memory is bad you have to write down all the necessary things, beginning with your login data (this is actually my biggest problem - i don`t want to have them stored by internet, but also not openly in my appartment. What can i do? Me personnally i am really learning disabled, especially since one year, having done the writing test for hepatic encephalopathy which shows a not optimal result, now, last time some days ago, i had 76 points on it..

So never nobody should be discouraged abouth such problems. I try also not to be. Finally said all tasts can be learned. Lifelong learning...


Hi Abby, I can relate to forgetting words, happens a lot! I attribute it more to my age (58) than to my ataxia...,ha! Seriously, I appreciated all the information you gave regarding "dementia"! Thanks... ;o)