Treatable Conditions Mimicking Dementia

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Conditions that Mimic Dementia

When elderly loved ones start to become increasingly forgetful or confused, family members often assume that it’s a sign of age-related dementia. While a doctor will be able to determine an appropriate diagnosis, it’s important for families to know there are some very treatable conditions that can mimic dementia. Home Care Assistance, a trusted Sonoma County Home Care agency, presents a few conditions sharing symptoms with dementia.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

NPH is characterized by a gradual build-up of spinal fluid in the brain. The resulting pressure from this build-up of fluid damages brain tissues.

  • Symptoms: Shuffling gait, lack of concentration, memory lapses, frequent urination
  • Remedy: Surgery to drain fluid

Urinary Tract Infection

In some cases, a severe UTI can result in memory issues. It’s often difficult to diagnose a UTI in older patients since they don’t often exhibit the common symptoms of infection (fever and pain).

  • Symptoms: Confusion, agitation, dizziness
  • Remedy: Antibiotics


Having diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean a senior will display signs of dementia. However, consistently high blood sugar levels can affect blood vessels in the brain, causing memory issues. Extent of cognitive decline depends on how long a senior’s diabetes has gone undiagnosed or untreated.

  • Symptoms: Confusion, memory lapses, irritability, inattention
  • Remedies: Controlling glucose levels, making dietary changes, getting more exercise

Other Conditions

Additional issues that may produce dementia-related symptoms include:

  • Decreased thyroid functioning
  • Reactions to medications
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Bipolar disease
  • Depression
  • Infections (like meningitis and encephalitis)
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency

It’s difficult to determine if a senior has a treatable condition with symptoms mimicking dementia or a dementia-related condition like Alzheimer’s from visual clues alone. The first step to finding a correct diagnosis is to encourage your loved one to see his or her doctor for a comprehensive evaluation.

For more information about caring for a senior loved one, call 707-843-4368 and speak with an experienced Care Manager from Home Care Assistance Sonoma County. We are a trusted provider of senior home care, offering flexible hourly and live-in care schedules with no long-term contracts required. We also provide professional dementia care Sonoma County families trust, offering all of our caregivers training in our one-of-a-kind Cognitive Therapeutics Method. Request your complimentary, no-obligation consultation today and see if home care is right for your loved one.


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