by 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:
Risk Factors TOP
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 PET 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:
While the exact cause of dementia is not known, these steps may help to reduce your risk:
Alzheimers Association of Canada
Toronto Dementia Network
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013