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Dementia

more about Dementia


  • Dementia is characterized by a slow deterioration of memory and mental function, usually worsening slowly over months and years.  An individual suffering dementia typically has a clear sensorium (i.e., he is alert and not drowsy, sleepy, or in a stupor).  A rapid onset of confusion or memory loss is not dementia, and needs immediate medical evaluation.

  • Memory loss
  • Loss of impulse control (may start using profane language)
  • Decreased level of function
  • A decrease in the ability to perform the activities of daily living

  • Mini-mental status examination
  • MRI or CT scan of head to check for Strokes or other causes
  • Basic blood tests to check for other conditions, such as underactive thyroid
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be necessary if there is a concern about tertiary Syphilis or Chronic Meningitis

  • Alzheimer's disease -- treatments that may have some benefit:
  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Selegiline
  • Ginkgo Bilboa
  • Vitamin E
  • Antidepressants are prescribed if underlying Depression is present
  • Anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications may be needed for some individuals
  • Multi-infarct dementia
  • The goal is to prevent further stokes.  Treatments may include an aspirin per day, Plavix, Coumadin, or cholesterol-lowering medications.
    The medications currently available somewhat improve mental function, while slowing the progression of the dementia.  It is important to keep the individual with Alzheimer's disease in a stable, predictable, environment.  In addition, support from spouses, family members, and caregivers are extremely important.  Generally, there are support organizations in most areas in the United States.


  • Types of dementia
    1. Primary degenerative dementia
    2. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type and, in general, is a steady, degenerating dementia.
    3. Huntington dementia is associated with chorea, a movement disorder (see chorea).
    4. Pick's disease is characterized by personality changes
    5. Slow viruses such as Creutzfeld-Jakob syndrome or "Mad Cow" disease
    6. Multi-infarct dementia is caused by multiple small Strokes
    7. Mixed -- both Alzheimer's disease and multi-infarct dementia are present
    8. HIV dementia
    9. Normal pressure hydrocephalus -- excess cerebral spinal fluid in the brain
    10. Parkinson's Disease (occurs in some individuals)
    11. Multiple Sclerosis (occurs in some individuals






more about Dementia


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