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More on Dementia

Just the word “dementia” can bring up all kinds of negative images and fears. Much of these upsets are not necessary if we can understand more about what dementia is and what it can mean in our lives. It is a term describing life changes including forgetfulness, brain function alterations and shifts in social skills. As I mentioned in a previous blog, just because you’re having some problems with memory does it mean you have dementia. I also stated that all dementia is not caused by Alzheimer’s. This blog is going to address some of the temporary situations that can cause dementia- meaning the types of dementia that can be reversed.

“Reversible” Dementias cured

With the right treatment some dementia’s can be treated successfully. They include:

  • Infections and immune disorders. When the immune system, your body’s defense against infections, produces other side effects, one of those side effects can be dementia. If there is a disease process caused by this immune system attacking nerve cells this can also cause dementia.
  • Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities. Having imbalances of certain hormones, sugars, electrolytes and vitamins can cause similar dementia symptoms.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. Being dehydrated, inadequate levels of the B vitamins, as well as insufficient copper and vitamin E can lead to dementia that can be “cured” by restoring the body’s healthy levels.
  • Medication side effects. Having a reaction to or suffering from side effects of medications, as well as the effects of several medications interacting, can cause dementia-like symptoms.
  • Subdural hematomas. After hitting the head, usually due to a fall, there can be a buildup of blood on the brain’s surface. This may cause symptoms similar to those of dementia
  • Brain tumors. Symptoms of dementia very seldom occur from a brain tumor.
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus. This condition, which is caused by enlarged ventricles in the brain, can result in walking problems, urinary difficulty and memory loss.

These reasons are why it’s so important to not just assume the worst if someone is experiencing mental changes. Alzheimer’s is not always the cause. Definitely check with your doctor and get a thorough examination and whatever test need to be done. It could be something as simple as a chronic urinary tract infection, malnutrition or dehydration. educating yourself is key.

Remember also, that if you are caring for someone with permanent dementia, you can always ask for assistance with caregiving. I’ve written some blogs in the past about resources and giving yourself permission to get help. Catalina In-Home Services is always there with expert professionals to aid you.

Here is a good resource home for some basics on dementia form the Mayo Clinic.