Dementia – symptoms, causes and other risk factors

Dementia: Symptoms, Causes

Dementia is not a specific disease. Dementia is a term which is used to describe a group of symptoms which are affecting your memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere you with the everyday activities. Dementia generally involves memory loss but the memory loss can be caused by different causes. If you have just memory loss, then this does not mean that you have dementia. The most common cause of a progressive dementia in older people is the Alzheimer’s disease but also there are many other causes for dementia. [1] Some dementia symptoms can be reversed which depends on the cause.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause but the most common signs and symptoms of dementia are

  1. Cognitive changes: Here are the cognitive changes that are happening if you suffer from dementia [2]:
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Difficulty reasoning or problem – solving
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Memory loss which is usually noticed by a spouse or someone else
  1. Psychological changes: Here are the psychological changes which are happening if you suffer from dementia [3]:
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Personality changes

If you have noticed that you or your loved one has memory problems or other symptoms which are linked to dementia, then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. There are some treatable medical conditions which can cause dementia symptoms so it is very important for your doctor to discover the underlying condition.

Causes: This condition involves the damage to the nerve cells which can occur in several areas of your brain. This condition is affecting people differently which depends on the area of your brain which is affected. People who suffer from this condition are often grouped by what they have in common which depends on the parts of your brain that are affected or if they have progressive dementia (the symptoms worsen over time). Some dementias which are caused by vitamin deficiencies or a reaction to medications might improve with treatment.

Types of dementia

  1. Progressive dementias: Here are the types of progressive dementia which are not reversible:
  • Frontotemporal dementia: This is a group of diseases which is characterized by the degeneration (breakdown) of your nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes on your brain. These areas are generally associated with language, behavior and personality. The cause for this condition is not known. [4]
  • Lewy body dementia: Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein which have been found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. This is one of the most common types of progressive dementia. [5]
  • Vascular dementia: This is the second most common types of dementia after the Alzheimer’s disease. This type of dementia occurs as a result of damage to the vessels which supply the blood to your brain. Blood vessel problems can be caused by a stroke or other blood vessel conditions. [6]
  • Alzheimer’s disease: The first most common cause of dementia in people which are 65 or older. The cause for this condition is not known. Tangles and plaques are often found in the brains of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Tangles are fibrous tangles made up of tau protein and plaques are clumps of a protein which is called beta – amyloid. There are certain genetic factors which are increasing the risk of getting this condition. [1,6]
  • Mixed dementia: There were autopsy studies of the brains of people aged 80 and older who had dementia and in these studies it was shown that many of them have a combination of Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s dementia. There should be done a lot more studies in the feature because they will show how mixed dementia affects symptoms and treatments. [7]

Dementia Symptoms Causes types

  1. Other disorders linked to dementia:
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Huntington’s disease
  1. Dementia-like conditions that can be reversed:
  • brain tumors
  • normal – pressure hydrocephalus
  • poisoning
  • anoxia
  • subdural hematomas
  • reactions to medications
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities
  • infections and immune disorders



[1]  Khachaturian ZS, et al. Strategic goals and roadmap for dementia prevention by stroke prevention. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2019;15:865-9.

[2] Murman DL. The impact of age on cognition. Seminars in Hearing. 2015;36(3):111–21.

[3] Hooker K, Bowman SR, Coehlo DP, et al. Behavioral change in persons with dementia: Relationships with mental and physical health of caregivers. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. 2002;57(5):453-60.

[4] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Focus on frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Retrieved from

[5] Outeiro TF, Koss DJ, Erskine D, et al. Dementia with Lewy bodies: an update and outlook. Molecular Neurodegeneration. 2019;14:5.

[6] Rizzi L, Rosset I, Roriz-Cruz M. Global epidemiology of dementia: Alzheimer’s and vascular types. BioMed Research International. 2014.

[7] Alzheimer’s Association. Mixed dementia. Retrieved from


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