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Dementia

Treatment can help, but this condition can't be cured

Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong

Requires a medical diagnosis

Lab tests or imaging often required

Not a specific disease, dementia is a group of conditions characterized by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgment. Symptoms include forgetfulness, limited social skills, and thinking abilities so impaired that it interferes with daily functioning. Medications and therapies may help manage symptoms. Some causes are reversible.



Symptoms

Requires a medical diagnosis

Symptoms include forgetfulness, limited social skills, and thinking abilities so impaired that it interferes with daily functioning.

People may experience:

  • Cognitive: memory loss, mental decline, confusion in the evening hours, disorientation, inability to speak or understand, making things up, mental confusion, or inability to recognize common things
  • Behavioral: irritability, personality changes, restlessness, lack of restraint, or wandering and getting lost
  • Mood: anxiety, loneliness, mood swings, or nervousness
  • Psychological: depression, hallucination, or paranoia
  • Muscular: inability to combine muscle movements or unsteady walking
  • Also common: falling or jumbled speech

Treatments

Treatment depends on stage

Medications and therapies may help manage symptoms. Some causes are reversible.

Therapies

Rehabilitation: Retraining the brain's pathways to improve mental and physical functioning after an illness or injury.
For example; after a blow to the head (concussion).

Occupational therapy: Improves daily living and work skills of patients.

Medications

Cognition-enhancing medication: Improves mental function, lowers blood pressure, and may balance mood. Donepezil (Aricept) Galantamine (Razadyne) Memantine (Namenda) Rivastigmine (Exelon)

Specialists

Geriatrician: Focuses on the health care of elderly people.

Clinical psychologist: Treats mental disorders primarily with talk therapy.

Neurologist: Treats nervous system disorders.

Psychiatrist: Treats mental disorders primarily with medications.

Primary care provider (PCP): Prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases.

Consult a doctor for medical advice


Note: The information you see describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but doesn't apply to everyone. This information isn't medical advice, so make sure to contact a healthcare provider if you have a medical problem. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or a emergency number immediately.

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