A true dementia diagnosis is not something that can be reversed. However, there are other conditions that can mimic dementia symptoms. If the symptoms seem to appear suddenly you will want to look at the following
conditions or situations that could bring on dementia behavior.
1. UTI- Urinary Tract Infection
One of the most common is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) The symptoms in the elderly are much different than in that of a much younger person. In the elderly sudden onset confusion is often present. Likewise, behavioral and personality changes are noticeable. That sweet dear lady suddenly begins hurling vulgar language at everyone within range.
“We had no idea what was going on. Mom got lost walking in the neighborhood and went into someone’s home uninvited. She started screaming at them. She wanted to know why they were in her house and what they had done with her stuff! Luckily the neighbor knew her and realized this was a medical problem. They were able to contact me and I met them at the hospital. An ambulance had to be called because she was out of control! At first, they put her in the Psych ward. That was really frightening. Then they discovered that she had a UTI. I had no idea this could be such a problem.” ~Karen
Unfortunately, UTI’s are common in the elderly. They are more common in women than in men. The following factors can contribute to infections. Here are some reasons Mom may be getting these infections.
Her immune system is not as strong as when she was younger.
Incontinence issues cause bacteria to get into the bladder.
Problems with the bladder dropping out of it’s normal position
Lack of estrogen may cause bacteria to grow more easily.
In men, an enlarged prostrate can be to blame.
Poor hygiene, often caused by physical limitations such as arthritis.
Some medications may also be to blame.
2. Vitamin B Deficiency
This is often over looked as a problem. In elderly people diagnosed with pernicious anemia confusion, slowness, irritability, and apathy are often present. These are all signs that could point to a dementia diagnosis.
However, if treated early this could be reversed. Trying to eat foods rich in Vitamin B will not usually work. Pernicious Anemia is caused because the body cannot absorb the vitamins from the food. Vitamin B shots do seem to work.
Depression is very common in the elderly. They have often suffered a lot of loss. Family and friends have passed. On top of that, older folks may have regrets about things they did or did not do in their lifetime. Also, they may have health issues causing life to seem like a struggle.
Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease have some similar symptoms. In depression, however, forgetfulness, disorientation, inattentiveness, and slowed responses are the first signs. Later memory lapses and the ability to make decisions will show up.
In Alzheimer’s Disease, the memory problems with show up first. The person will usually try to conceal the problems rather than bringing attention to them. The depression will show up later in the disease process.
Dementia develops over months or even years. When someone has a sudden onset of symptoms that develops over hours or days this is an emergency. The cause could be delirium. In delirium, levels of consciousness fluctuate between drowsiness and alertness.
Delirium can occur in the elderly after surgery. It can also be associated with alcohol withdrawal. Likewise, many medications are culprits. Elderly people taking multiple medications may be at a higher risk. The list of drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms is long. It includes:
If you have an elderly parent or spouse that begins to show signs of dementia bring them in for a checkup. Insist that the doctor check for other conditions like these that you may suspect. If the onset is sudden get them to an emergency room as quickly as you can.
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Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.
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