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Answers to some frequently asked questions about dementia.
While many Americans feel that dementia is an accepted part of growing old, the truth is that it only affects 15 percent of older Americans. Dementia can be characterized by confusion, memory loss and disorientation. Of those individuals diagnosed, an estimated 60 percent suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive mental deterioration.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer’s disease slowly affects nerve cells in the brain, beginning in a section of the brain that controls memory, and ultimately affecting other intellectual, emotional and behavioral abilities. Although scientists are actively researching the disease, no cause or cure has been identified. An adult’s chance of developing the illness is 1 in 100, with odds increasing fourfold among family members of a person suffering from the disorder.
What are other causes of dementia?
Forty percent of all persons diagnosed with dementia suffer from one or more of the following conditions:
What are the symptoms of dementia?
Common symptoms of dementia include:
What are the reversible causes of dementia?
Elderly people may become forgetful, disoriented or confused due to a reversible condition that may mimic dementia, but these may be reversed when their causes are diagnosed and treated.
How is dementia treated?
With a goal of controlling symptoms, treatment may include hospitalization for a short time. Disorders that contribute to confusion should be treated, including heart failure, decreased oxygen intake, thyroid disorders, anemia, malnutrition, infections and psychiatric conditions. Correction of coexisting medical and psychiatric disorders often greatly improves mental functioning.
Find a San Diego Psychiatrist
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego psychiatrist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.