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About Dementia


Dementia is a loss in mental skills, such as the ability to think, reason, learn, and understand. It causes problems with day to day tasks and self-care.

Some Areas of the Brain Affected by Dementia
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Many health problems can be a cause. Some common ones are:

Risk Factors

It is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:


Symptoms start slowly and get worse with time. A person may have:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of focus
  • Problems making choices or plans
  • Problems naming things
  • Problems with getting lost in familiar places
  • Mood swings
  • Slowness when moving
  • Pulled away from other people


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Tests on memory, thought processes, and the nervous system will also be done. Images of the brain may be taken with:


The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms. There is no cure for dementia. Some symptoms can be managed with medicines such as:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking
  • Memantine to decrease abnormal activity in the brain

Lifestyle Changes

These changes may also be helpful:

  • Getting light exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet or something like it
  • Making the home a calm and safe place
  • Getting personal comfort needs met, such as hunger, thirst, and emotions
  • Using memory aides
  • Choosing a person who can make medical and other key choices for a person if they are not able to


The exact cause of dementia is not known. General tips for brain health include:

  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes or more of activity each week.
  • Eat a healthful diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, olive oil, and fish.
  • If you drink, drink in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reach or stay at a healthy weight.
  • Manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Look for ways to challenge and grow mental abilities throughout life. This could mean learning new skills or completing mental games and puzzles.


  • Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alzheimer-dementia.
  • Dementia evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/dementia-evaluation.
  • How is Alzheimer's disease treated? National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-alzheimers-disease-treated.
  • Moga, D.C., Roberts, M., et al. Dementia for the Primary Care Provider. Primary Care, 2017; 44 (3): 439-456.
  • What do we know about diet and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease? National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-diet-and-prevention-alzheimers-disease.