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Dementia/Memory Loss

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.

Though dementia generally involves memory loss, memory loss has different causes. Memory loss alone doesn't mean you have dementia.

Dementia can lead to:

  • Inadequate nutrition. Many people with dementia eventually reduce or stop eating.
  • Difficulty swallowing increases the risk of choking or aspirating food into the lungs, which can block breathing and cause pneumonia.
  • Inability to perform self-care tasks.
  • Personal safety challenges, including driving, cooking and walking alone.

Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer’s Disease?

Causes

Damage to brain cells

May be caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, tumors or infections of the brain, or chronic alcoholism.

Other causes include structural brain disorders such as hydrocephalus, metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism, or toxin such as lead.

Risks

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Hearing loss
  • Diabetes
  • Social isolation

Types

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Frontotemporal disorders
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Vascular Dementia

Many people have mixed dementia – a combination of two or more types.

Stages

  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Mild dementia
  • Moderate dementia
  • Severe dementia

Diagnosis

There is no one test available at this time to diagnose dementia. Doctors use a series of tests including a medical history, physical exam, blood tests, review of symptoms, and family history.

Treatment

  • Prescription drugs
  • Modifying your environment – clutter, noise, overstimulations
  • Modifying common tasks – breaking down everyday tasks into manageable tasks
  • Occupational therapy

Managing Your Condition

  • Treating other conditions
  • Keep your mind active and stay socially engaged
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet

6 Tips for Managing Sleep Problems in Alzheimer’s

Daily Care

Keeping Safe in the Home

Resources