Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Dementia is a general loss of mental abilities. It can include a loss of ability to think, reason, learn, and understand. To be considered dementia, these mental losses must be severe enough to interfere with day-to-day activities. Dementia must also have:
Causes of dementia include:
Increasing age is the most common factor that increases your chance of developing dementia. Other factors include:
Symptoms often begin mildly and get more severe over time. Symptoms vary according to the cause of the dementia, but often include:
Your doctor may diagnose dementia through:
There are no blood tests or exams that can diagnose Alzheimer's disease. Certain types of brain imaging such as a SPECT or a
scan may aid in a diagnosis. Tests to rule out other causes of dementia and other medical conditions that may mimic dementia include:
Imaging tests take pictures of internal body structures. These may include:
The doctor will also check to see if you have
depression. It can often present like dementia.
Currently, there are no treatments to cure many types of dementia. Some medication may help to decrease the symptoms of dementia or slow its course.
Two types of medications that may be used to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
Treatments that are being studied include:
This type of support is critical for people with dementia. Behavioral and environmental support includes:
People with dementia often develop psychiatric symptoms. You may need appropriate treatment, such as:
Caring for a person with dementia is very difficult. Those providing care will need
is an excellent resource for families and caregivers.
While the exact cause of dementia is not known, these steps may help to reduce your risk:
American Academy of Neurology
Alzheimers Association of Canada
Toronto Dementia Network
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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