Dementia is a general loss of mental abilities. It can include a loss of ability to think, reason, learn, and understand. To be considered dementia, these mental losses must be severe enough to interfere with day-to-day activities. Dementia must also have:
Causes of dementia include:
Increasing age is the most common factor that increases your chance of developing dementia. Other factors include:
Symptoms often begin mildly and get more severe over time. Symptoms vary according to the cause of the dementia, but often include:
Your doctor may diagnose dementia through:
Imaging tests take pictures of internal body structures. These may include:
Cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord can be analyzed with a lumbar puncture.
Currently, there are no treatments to cure many types of dementia. Some medication may help to decrease the symptoms of dementia or slow its course.
Two types of medications that may be used to reduce the symptoms of dementia include:
Treatments that are being studied include:
This type of support is critical for people with dementia. Behavioral and environmental support includes:
People with dementia often develop psychiatric symptoms. You may need appropriate treatment, such as:
Caring for a person with dementia is difficult. Those providing care will need support. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for families and caregivers.
While the exact cause of dementia is not known, these steps may help to reduce your risk:
American Academy of Neurology
Alzheimer Society Canada
Toronto Dementia Network
Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia. Updated August 27, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Alzheimer's disease medications fact sheet. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet. Updated August 12, 2015. Accessed August 28, 2015.
Alzheimer's disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementia. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated May 4, 2015. Accessed August 28, 2015.
DeKosky S, Jeff D, Williamson A, et al. Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008;300(19):2253-2262.
Dementia evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115618/Dementia-evaluation. Updated April 11, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Gidoni R, Benussi L, Paterlini A, Albertini V, Binetti G, Emanuele E. Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: The present and the future. Neurodegen Dis. 2011;8(6):413-20.
Kaduszkiewicz H, Zimmermann T, Beck-Bornholdt HP, van den Bussche H. Cholinesterase inhibitors for patients with Alzheimer's disease: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials. BMJ. 2005;331(7512):321-327.
Ledger AJ, Baker FA. An investigation of long-term effects of group music therapy on agitation levels of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Aging Ment Health. 2007;11(3):330-338.
Marjoribanks J, Farquhar C, Roberts H, Lethaby A. Long term hormone therapy for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;7:CD004143.
Middleton LE, Yaffe K. Promising strategies for the prevention of dementia. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(10):1210-1215.
O'Brien JT, Colloby S, Fenwick J, et al. Dopamine transporter loss visualized with FP-CIT SPECT in the differential diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies. Arch Neurol. 2004;61(6):919-925.
Schneider L, Dagerman K, Insel P. Risk of death with atypical antipsychotic drug treatment for dementia: Meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. JAMA. 2005;294(15):1934-1943.
2/24/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Birks J, Grimley Evans J. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;1:CD003120.
9/18/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Anstey KJ, Mack HA, Cherbuin N. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: Meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009;17(7):542-555.
1/8/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Snitz BE, O'Meara ES, Carlson MC, et al. Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2009;302(24):2663-2670.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.