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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:




Dementia is a loss in mental skills, such as the ability to think, reason, learn, and understand. It causes problems with day to day tasks and self-care.

Some Areas of the Brain Affected by Dementia.

Nucleus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=23972397si55551132.jpgAreas of the Brain Affected by Alzheimer's DiseaseNULLjpgAreas of the Brain Affected by Alzheimer's DiseaseNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si55551132.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.24NULL2002-10-012553912397_11910267390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Many health problems can be a cause. Some common ones are:

Risk Factors

It is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:


Symptoms start slowly and get worse with time. A person may have:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of focus
  • Problems making choices or plans
  • Problems naming things
  • Problems with getting lost in familiar places
  • Mood swings
  • Slowness when moving
  • Pulled away from other people


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Tests on memory, thought processes, and the nervous system will also be done. Images of the brain may be taken with:


The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms. There is no cure for dementia. Some symptoms can be managed with medicines such as:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking
  • Memantine to decrease abnormal activity in the brain


The exact cause of dementia is not known. General tips for brain health include:

  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes or more of activity each week.
  • Eat a healthful diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, olive oil, and fish.
  • If you drink, drink in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reach or stay at a healthy weight.
  • Manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Look for ways to challenge and grow mental abilities throughout life. This could mean learning new skills or completing mental games and puzzles.

Lifestyle Changes

These changes may also be helpful:

  • Getting light exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet or something like it
  • Making the home a calm and safe place
  • Getting personal comfort needs met, such as hunger, thirst, and emotions
  • Using memory aides
  • Choosing a person who can make medical and other key choices for a person if they are not able to




  • Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alzheimer-dementia.
  • Dementia evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/dementia-evaluation.
  • How is Alzheimer's disease treated? National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-alzheimers-disease-treated.
  • Moga, D.C., Roberts, M., et al. Dementia for the Primary Care Provider. Primary Care, 2017; 44 (3): 439-456.
  • What do we know about diet and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease? National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-diet-and-prevention-alzheimers-disease.


  • Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.