Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.

Types and Causes

Progressive dementias-Types of dementias that are not reversible and worsen over time include:

- Vascular Dementia

-Dementia With Lewy Bodies (DLB)

-Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

-Alzheimer's disease.

Other disorders linked to dementia

-Huntington's Disease

-Traumatic brain injury.

-Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

-Parkinson's disease.

Dementia-like conditions that may be reversed

  • Infections and immune disorders.
  • Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Reactions to medications.
  • Subdural hematomas.
  • Poisoning.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Reactions to medications.
  • Subdural hematomas.
  • Poisoning.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Anoxia.
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus.

Dementia isn't a specific disease. Instead, dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning.

Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment or language, and the inability to perform some daily activities such as paying bills or becoming lost while driving.

Many causes of dementia symptoms exist. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of a progressive dementia. Some causes of dementia may be reversible.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Difficulty with complex tasks
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Problems with disorientation, such as getting lost
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to reason
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Risk factors

Risk factors that can't be changed

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Down syndrome  

Risk factors you can change

  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol.
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High estrogen levels
  • Obesity
  • Smoking


Treatment when dementia can be reversed

Sometimes treating the cause of dementia helps the dementia. For example, the person might:

Treatment when dementia can't be reversed

If the cause of dementia cannot be treated, the doctor will work with the person and caregivers to develop a plan to make life easier and more comfortable.

Care plans may include:

  • Tips to help the person be independent and manage daily life as long as possible. For more information, see Home Treatment.
  • Medicine. While medicines cannot cure dementia, they may help improve mental function, mood, or behavior.
  • Support and counseling. A diagnosis of dementia can create feelings of anger, fear, and anxiety. A person in the early stage of the illness should seek emotional support from family, friends, and perhaps a counselor experienced in working with people who have dementia.

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