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What Conditions Can Mimic Dementia

A Correct Diagnosis Is Important

Recognizing Medical Conditions that Mimic Dementia

Consulting a doctor to obtain a diagnosis is critical at an early stage.

A complete medical and psychological assessment may identify a treatable condition and ensure that it is treated correctly, or confirm the presence of dementia and then ensure assistance is provided.

Such an assessment might include the following:

What Is The Life Expectancy For Dementia Can It Be Cured

There is no cure for dementia.

  • Although Alzheimer’s disease is listed as the 6th most common cause of death in the U.S.. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease most commonly die due to infections caused by lack of mobility.
  • Pneumonia, bladder infections, bedsores, and other causes can lead to more wide-spread infection and subsequent death.
  • Patients with dementias have widely varying life expectancies, depending on the underlying cause of their dementia. Life expectancy can range from only 1 to 2 years to more than 15 years the average duration of the disease is between 4 and 8 years after diagnosis.

Early Identification And Accurate Diagnosis Can Improve Patient Outcomes


  • Some causes of dementia can be reversed through proper identification, intervention, and treatment.
  • Nurses play an essential role in improving the lives of many older adults by recognizing and treating reversible forms of dementia.

As a nurse, youll likely care for older adults who present with memory concerns that may lead you to suspect dementia. However, several medical conditions mimic dementia and can be misdiagnosed as Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. These conditions frequently are reversible if diagnosed and treated. An early and accurate diagnosis can reduce the emotional toll on the individual and their caregivers that would result from a misdiagnosis and also save substantial healthcare costs.

In this article, we review seven common reversible causes of dementia and identify their signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests, and treatments. Some dementias can be reversed by resolving the underlying cause, so screening for cognitive impairment is an important first step.

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Path To Improved Health

From the outside looking in, it may be difficult to know if your family member is depressed. You can look for some of the typical signs of depression. Your loved one may become angry and agitated or lost and confused. They may refuse help with personal care, such as getting dressed or taking medicines.

Alzheimer dementia and depression have many symptoms that are alike. It can be hard to tell the difference between them. If you think that depression is a problem for your loved one who has Alzheimer dementia, talk to their doctor.

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Depression Can Look Different Depending On A Persons Cultural Background

Do Neurologists Treat Dementia?

Signs and symptoms of depression can look different depending on the person and their cultural background. People from different cultures may express emotions, moods, and mood disorders including depression in different ways. In some cultures, depression may be displayed as physical symptoms, such as aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.

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Brain Fog Vs Dementia

We all forget things. Even in our twenties we might lose our keys or forget the name of someone we just met. And as we age, these moments of forgetfulness happen more often.

For women in their late forties and early fifties, the onset of menopause can bring even more brain fog and memory lapses for many women.

But the big question is: when should you worry that something is wrong? Is it just menopause, or might it be early warning signs of Alzheimers disease or dementia?

Its important to remember that there are lots of causes for brain fog, says Lynne Shinto, N.D., M.P.H., a naturopath with expertise in neurology and womens health at the OHSU Center for Womens Health.

Most of them are far less scary than Alzheimers disease. Here are a few of the most common causes:

  • Hormone changes during the transition to menopause
  • Other hormone changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Many of these causes come in pairs, or even trios. Stress can lead to lack of sleep or depression. The transition to menopause can lead to hot flashes that impact sleep, or to depression. Depression can lead to stress.

Poor thinking ability and memory problems are a very common symptom of depression.

For many people, treating their depression clears up symptoms of brain fog and cloudy thinking. For this reason, everyone with these symptoms, even people in their seventies and beyond, should be screened for depression.

Brain fog and dementia are different

Healthy brain aging

What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia

There is a pertinent question that everyone especially the elderly should know the answer to and that is: what conditions can be mistaken for dementia?

This is because sometimes, a person can be scared that they are developing dementia because of the symptoms they have pointed to the onset of the illness.

However, when they go to the doctors for a diagnosis, it turns out that they do not have dementia, but another medical condition.

This is the primary reason why it is important to avoid self-diagnosis and always consult a doctor when you have dementia warning signs.

At times, a person may even have to seek a second and a third opinion.

Unfortunately, sometimes, it is the doctor who will give a misdiagnosis based on the symptoms that a person has.

There is a long list of curable or partially reversible medical conditions that share symptoms with dementia.

Here are some of the most common ones.

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Can Dementia Be Seen On An Mri

Brain scans

CT and MRI scans, which reveal the anatomic structure of the brain, are used to rule out such problems as tumor, hemorrhage, stroke, and hydrocephalus, which can masquerade as Alzheimers disease. These scans can also show the loss of brain mass associated with Alzheimers disease and other dementias.

Relationships Of Depression With Cognitive Impairment Decline And Dementia

Medications That Mimic Dementia

Depression and cognitive impairment: A profusion of studies have demonstrated that the presence of depression is associated with worse performance on cognitive tests, both in clinical samples of patients with depressive illnesses and in population-based samples of older adults drawn from the community. Many older patients with depression complain of difficulty in concentrating and remembering, and this subjective phenomenon is borne out by objective studies showing that cognitive deficits in depression are mediated almost entirely by slowed processing speed and working memory . There is some variation in results as to which cognitive domains are associated with depression, related in part to the nature of the study population.

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Is It Dementia Or Depression

One of the most common distinctions that physicians make in seeing patients with complaints of memory trouble is the distinction between dementia and depression. Before I continue, I would once again like to distinguish between the terms dementia and Alzheimers disease.

Dementia is a brain problem that includes impairment of memory and one or more other cognitive abilities. Alzheimers disease is the most common, but not the only, late life cause of dementia. It has certain distinguishing characteristics and our accuracy at diagnosing Alzheimers it is usually better than 80 percent. However, only knowledge of actual brain tissue changes allows us to make a definite diagnosis of Alzheimers disease.

For todays discussion, I will contrast depression with dementias in general and at times with Alzheimers disease specifically.

Depression and dementia are both relatively common problems. They both may be associated with impairments of thinking in memory. The impairments of thinking and memory from either of these disorders can be disruptive to daily activity performance. At first, we might question how depression and dementia might be confused.

The medical treatments of dementia and depression are clearly different. In a previous blog I have discussed medical treatments in dementia. Medical treatments of depression include a large number of medications from which the physician must choose the medication that is best suited to the individual patient.

Stay Sharp And Help Keep Your Loved Ones Sharp

Medications are also common culprits in mental decline and dementia. As we age, the liver becomes less efficient at metabolizing toxins and drugs, and the body has a harder time getting rid of these potentially harmful products.

As a result, drugs and other toxins tend to accumulate in the body. Elderly people in poor health and those taking several different medications are especially vulnerable. Keep an eye out for these drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms:


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What Researchers Know About Late

LATE tends to affect the “oldest old” in the population: More than 20% of people over age 85 show signs of the condition, the report said. But more research is needed to better understand how many people have the condition, Silverberg said.

Still, the public health impact of LATE is likely at least as large as that of Alzheimer’s, the authors wrote.

LATE affects multiple areas of cognition, including memory, and ultimately impairs everyday activity. It appears that LATE progresses more gradually than Alzheimer’s disease, although the two conditions may coincide and cause a more rapid decline than either would alone.

The new report describes three “stages” of LATE, depending on where in the brain TDP-43 is found.

Currently, LATE can be diagnosed only after death, during autopsy. But the authors said that they hope the new report spurs research into biomarkers for the disease, so that doctors can diagnose it before death and study it in clinical trials. Finding biomarkers for the disease is also important for the study of Alzheimer’s, so researchers can distinguish between the two conditions when a person is alive, the authors said.

Its Not Necessarily Alzheimers

6 Potentially Reversible Conditions That Can Mimic ...

More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia, and a small percentage of dementias are reversible. Two common examples are dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid . Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have, because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated.

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Depression And Dementia: Similarities And Differences

Diseases often times mimic one another yet have distinct differences as well. This is no different with depression and dementia. Both can display the same symptoms, from lethargy to confusion, yet they have notable differences that define them. One can even mask the other. Add the hospice component to the equation and your loved ones symptoms may be compounded. The good news is that quality of life can be improved with proper treatment. If you are facing the need for hospice in San Francisco for your aging parent of other loved one who suffers from one or both of the above, Pathways Home Health and Hospice is here to help. Here we will discuss the similarities and differences between depression and dementia.

What Causes Dementia And How To Diagnose It

Information from a physical exam and laboratory tests can help identify health issues that can cause symptoms of dementia. Common causes of dementia-like symptoms are depression, untreated sleep apnea, delirium, side effects of medications, thyroid problems, certain vitamin deficiencies and excessive alcohol consumption.

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What Are Symptoms Of Severe Dementia

These may include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression, or sometimes hallucinations. bladder incontinence is common in the later stages of dementia, and some people will also experience bowel incontinence. appetite and weight loss problems are both common in advanced dementia.

Recognizing Depression Or Normal Memory Loss Vs Dementia And How To Tell The Difference

most common medications that can mimic the symptoms of memory loss and Dementia

May 23, 2017

As we age, we sometimes get a little more forgetful.

As we age, we sometimes get a little more forgetful. While most people understand that this is just a normal part of getting older, there are some who fear that forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimers disease or some other form of dementia. There has been a lot of research focused around aging and memory loss recently, and researchers have learned a lot about what is normal versus a more serious problem.

Aging is not the only factor that contributes to memory loss, however. Many older adults develop memory problems as a result of health issues that may be treatable. These can include: side effects due to medications, vitamin deficiencies, substance abuse or possibly even reduced organ function due to thyroid, kidney or living disorders. These can be serious medical conditions and should be treated as soon as possible.

In addition to the aforementioned medical issues which can precipitate memory loss or impairment, there is what seems to be the most common reason: depression. Depression in older adults has been as steadily growing problem, and emotional problems such as stress, anxiety or depression can and quite often do lead to forgetfulness, confusion and other symptoms that are similar to those of dementia.

What is Dementia?

How to Tell the Difference

Alzheimers Association

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As A Care Worker How Can You Help

There are many conditions and circumstances where you may see signs and symptoms that may be confused with dementia. As a care worker, it is not your responsibility to try to diagnose the condition. However, as you may be the one person who sees the individual on a regular basis, you are well placed to notice any changes. Encouraging an older person to visit their GP on a regular basis can help them to maintain their general health and wellbeing.

Types Of Depression In Older People

There are different types of depression and most types can affect older people just as easily as they affect anyone else.

Major depressive disorder is perhaps the most common type of depression in older people. Major depression may occur during their younger years and may reappear during their senior years or it may exist continuously throughout their lifetimes. The symptoms of major depression will interfere with their ability to sleep, eat, and enjoy life.

Persistent depressive disorder is also known as PDD. This is a type of depression that lasts for at least two years. A person living with persistent depressive disorder may have times of major depression along with periods of milder symptoms over those two years.

Psychotic depression is a type of major depressive disorder when some form of psychosis is present along with the depression. Psychosis may be in the form of hallucinations, delusions, or some other type of break with reality. Hallucinations may cause them to hear or see things that dont exist. Delusions may manifest as having feelings of worthlessness, failure, or having committed some type of sin.

Still another type of depression that can affect older adults is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Seasonal affective disorder typically surfaces when the weather gets cold and gloomy with shorter hours of sunlight. The symptoms are the same as for clinical depression and they may subside when the weather turns warmer.

What Causes Depression in Older Adults?

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Dementia Delirium And Depression: Similarities Differences And Treatments

Welcome to the educational program Dementia, Delirium, and Depression: Similarities, Differences, and Treatments. Delirium and depression are commonly seen in those with dementia, but it can be difficult to distinguish the three conditions because they can have similar symptoms. This program will help you understand the similarities and differences between dementia, delirium, and depression, and the major treatments for them.

. . .

This is Lesson 1 of The Alzheimers Caregiver. You may view the topics in order as presented, or click on any topic listed in the main menu to be taken to that section. We hope that you enjoy this program and find it useful in helping both yourself and those you care for.

There are no easy answers when it comes to the care of another, as every situation and person is different. In addition, every caregiver comes with different experiences, skills, and attitudes about caregiving. Our hope is to offer you useful information and guidelines for caring for someone with dementia, but these guidelines will need to be adjusted to suit your own individual needs.

Remember that your life experiences, your compassion, and your inventiveness will go a long way toward enabling you to provide quality care. Lets get started.

Prefer to listen to this lesson? Get started by clicking the Play button below.

Health Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia

Top Medical Conditions that Can Mimic Dementia

These 7 health conditions often cause symptoms similar to dementia in older adults.

Once these conditions are diagnosed and properly treated, the troubling symptoms are usually eliminated.

1. Urinary tract infection Seniors are the most likely group of people to develop a urinary tract infection , something easily treated with antibiotics.

Theyre also the least likely to have typical symptoms like pain during urination, fever, or a frequent urge to go.

Instead, UTI symptoms often show up as a sudden change in behavior. Someone who suddenly cant remember a significant event from last week might have a UTI.

Other signs of an infection include:

  • Becoming unusually sleepy or withdrawn

2. Medication side effectsMedications called anticholinergics are commonly used by older adults .

These drugs and their side effects can cause dementia-like symptoms in people without previous cognitive issues.

Thats because anticholinergic drugs block brain chemicals used for learning, memory, and muscle functions.

Older adults already have less of these key brain chemicals because our bodies produce less as we age. And blocking them with drugs makes it even harder for the brain to function properly.

Ask the doctor to do a complete review of all medications and supplements. But DONT start, stop, or change dosage for any medications without first talking with the doctor.

Dementia develops slowly, but delirium starts suddenly.

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A Condition That Can Fool Even Experienced Doctors

In fact, Mrs. M was suffering from delirium, at that time called acute organic brain syndrome that results in rapidly changing mental states, and causes confusion and changes in behavior. She returned to her previous healthy cognitive status very quickly after her eye patches were removed and her post-operative recovery continued.

The lesson I learned from her recovery was that delirium can fool even experienced doctors into misdiagnosing dementia, which is now called Major Neurocognitive Disorder . Confustion, disorientation, and memory impairment are signs of delirium that are shared with MaND.

Delirium looks very different, though, in other ways. It comes on rapidly, often after a medical or surgical event or toxic combination of medications. It is accompanied by shifting alertness, resulting in moments of sleepiness alternating with moments of agitation. Delirium is more often associated with visual hallucinations or psychotic delusions than MaND. And, most importantly, delirium can often be reversed once the cause is found and treated.

Its causes are many and include infection, metabolic disturbances, toxic medication reactions, withdrawal from alcohol, and the effects of head injury, just to name a few.

What makes this especially tragic is that distinguishing delirium from MaND is usually not too difficult and just requires careful attention to history, symptoms, physical and mental status examinations, and the results of common laboratory tests.


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