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Alzheimer?s disease is the
most common cause of dementia. This topic focuses on other conditions that
cause dementia. For more information on Alzheimer?s, see the topic
We all forget things as we get
older. Many older people have a slight loss of memory that does not affect
their daily lives. But memory loss that gets worse may mean that you have
Dementia is a loss of mental skills that affects your
daily life. It can cause problems with your memory and how well you can think
and plan. Usually dementia gets worse over time. How long this takes is
different for each person. Some people stay the same for years. Others lose
Your chances of having dementia rise as you get
older. But this doesn't mean that everyone will get it. By age 85, about 35 out of 100 people have some form of dementia. That means that 65 out of 100 don't have it. Dementia is rare before age 60.1
If you or a loved one has memory loss that is getting worse,
see your doctor. It may be nothing to worry about. If it is dementia, treatment
What causes dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage
to or changes in the brain. Things that can cause dementia include:
In a few cases, dementia is caused by a problem that can
be treated. Examples include having an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), not getting enough vitamin B12, and
fluid buildup in the brain (normal-pressure hydrocephalus). In
these cases, treating the problem may cure the dementia.
people, depression can cause memory loss that seems like dementia. Depression
can be treated.
As you age, medicines may affect you more. Taking
some medicines together may cause symptoms that look like dementia. Be sure
your doctor knows about all of the medicines you take. This means all
prescription medicines and all
over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and
What are the symptoms?
Usually the first symptom
is memory loss. Often the person who has a memory problem doesn't notice it,
but family and friends do. As dementia gets worse:
- You may have more trouble doing things that
take planning, like making a list and going shopping.
- You may have
trouble using or understanding words.
- You may get lost in places
you know well.
Over time, people with dementia may begin to act very
differently. They may become scared and strike out at others, or they may become
clingy and childlike. They may stop brushing their teeth or bathing.