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Treatable Conditions That Can Mimic Dementia in Durham Seniors

November 17, 2016

Sometimes seniors experience memory loss which may be caused by an unrelated problem and not dementia. Dementia is a progressive disease and comes on slowly without improving. If memory loss comes on suddenly, it is usually attributed to another disease or problem that is causing those sort of symptoms. Some medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of dementia and interfere with a correct diagnosis. That is why it is important to address your concerns and see a physician to find the correct reason and if it does turn out to be Alzheimer’s, early detection and treatment will provide better outcomes.
Over 50 conditions can cause or mimic dementia and most will subside when the problem is treated. Some examples of different conditions are listed:

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a condition that causes a build-up of spinal fluid in the brain. The symptoms include problems with memory, urinary incontinence, shuffling when walking and lack of focus. A neurologist can identify this problem with a CT scan, MRI or spinal tap. A shunt inserted in to the brain corrects the problem.

Medication Prescription drugs can cause memory glitches from a build-up of medication. You can speak with your doctor about your medicine and discuss alternatives. However, don’t just stop your medicine without discussing with your doctor.

Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) in the elderly may cause dizziness, delirium and memory loss to agitation or hallucinations. Most don’t have the typical symptoms of pain and fever which make them hard to diagnose.

Diabetes is another possibility because over 25% of Americans over 60 have diabetes. High or low blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels in the brain causing confusion, lack of attention, irritability or memory problems. Diabetes can cause damage to the body as well as the brain and if the disease has affected the brain, it can be severe.

Many people over 50 are susceptible to thyroid disease which can cause forgetfulness, depression, anxiousness and sluggishness. This disease develops slowly over time and can be mistaken as normal aging. However, it can be treated with medication and sometimes surgery.

Lack of B-12 can lead to pernicious anemia over time which can cause nerve damage, confusion, personality changes, forgetfulness and irritability. Blood work can measure deficiencies and can be treated with supplements or shots.

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