If you begin noticing changes in the social skills, thinking abilities and memory of an elderly loved one, you may be witnessing the early signs of dementia. There are several diseases that can cause dementia, but it is not a disease in itself. Rather, it is a group of symptoms. One of the most prevalent symptoms of dementia is memory loss, but according to the Mayo Clinic, memory loss does not automatically mean that your loved one has dementia.
Many people associate dementia with Alzheimer’s disease. This makes sense because Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of dementia. However, there are other conditions that can produce similar symptoms. Some are reversible with treatment, and once the condition resolves, the dementia-like symptoms often disappear. Treatable causes of dementia-like symptoms include subdural hematoma, nutritional deficiency and infection.
However, some causes of dementia are not reversible. A traumatic brain injury can produce symptoms of dementia. So can neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
Progressive dementia gets worse over time, and there is nothing anyone can do to reverse it. The second most common cause of progressive dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease, is damage to the blood vessels that supply the brain. The term for this is vascular dementia. An example of a condition that can lead to vascular dementia is atherosclerosis, also called hardening of the arteries.
Researchers have conducted autopsy studies of dementia patients aged 80 and older and found that sometimes more than one cause was present. The term for this is mixed dementia.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.