Is It Dementia?

Portrait of a senior woman contemplating. Isolated on black background.Sometimes it may appear that your loved one has a form of dementia.  However, other problems may be the cause of their dementia-like symptoms.

One of my clients went to the hospital with kidney problems due to dehydration. She also had congestive heart failure and suffered from depression.  For months she had not been taking care of herself.  She was not eating correctly, got little to no exercise and became a recluse in her own home.  Her body filled with fluids due to her congestive heart condition, making her twice as heavy as normal.  Once the doctors, through proper medication, got her bodily fluids back to normal, making sure she also drank plenty of water with a proper diet, and her depression diminished, her symptoms of dementia were gone.

Dr. Joe James, a friend of mine, is a well-known, conscientious, retired Orthopedic surgeon in Seneca, South Carolina.  One of his family members was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.  Therefore, he delved into all the aspects of the disease.  In this article, Dr. James has enumerated several factors that may cause symptoms of dementia.  Dr. James stated that our body is made up of many organ systems.  They all must be operating well to have good health.  When one organ system is compromised, it affects every other organ system, including the brain.  Factors that may affect your brain with symptoms that mimic dementia include:

Dehydration – A common fault of seniors is that we don’t drink enough water.  Without daily replacement the volume of fluids in the body decreases through the normal function of the kidneys and by evaporation through the lungs and skin. Not keeping up with this daily loss of water will result in dehydration which causes confusion that looks like Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression – Many seniors fail to have enough activity and exercise.  With onset on health problems this can cause depression and can result in difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating and/or making decisions.

Thyroid problems– Underactive or over active thyroid problems can cause cognitive difficulties such as forgetfulness and lack of concentration which mimic dementia.

Malnutrition – So many older adults no longer like to cook and as a result have an unhealthy diet. One of the most common deficiencies they have is lack of many of the vitamins, including Vitamin B-12.  Malnutrition can prevent the brain from functioning properly, mimicking dementia like symptoms.

Medication problems – such as a dosage that is too high, an incorrect prescription, reaction with over-the counter drugs or inconsistency in taking the medication can cause rapid onset of cognitive symptoms.

Infections –Chronic infections such as urinary tract infections and deep weeping skin ulcerations from venous stasis in the legs or from pressure sores on the buttocks or hips can also affect the brain’s functioning, resulting in confusion, foggy thinking, difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness.

It is so important that when any dementia-like symptoms occur that you visit your doctor for a full diagnostic workup which includes a biochemical profile with a multi-panel blood analysis.  Several possibilities might need to be explored before an accurate diagnosis is made.  Only then can proper treatment be started that focuses on whatever is causing the Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.