Dementia Differential Diagnosis


What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease. Dementia actually refers to a group of symptoms affecting intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily life. Many causes of dementia symptoms exist. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but people can have dementia caused by changes in blood flow in their brain (vascular dementia), Lewy Body dementia and a number of other dementias. Likelihood of
developing dementia increases with increasing age.

Memory loss is a hallmark symptom of dementia, but memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia. To be diagnosed with a dementia, there must be problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment or language. Dementia can make a person confused and unable to remember people and names. People suffering from dementia may also experience changes in personality and social behavior.

Fortunately, some causes of dementia are treatable and even reversible, but it is only through careful testing that one form of dementia can be differentiated from another. Certain disorders can appear to be dementia, but they cannot always be correctly diagnosed, or treated, without full neuropsychological testing.

Dementia always involves memory problems and some or all of the following:

  • Difficulty communicating
  • Problems learning new information
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Attention problems

In severe cases, dementia can also involve:

  • Personality changes
  • Inability to reason
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations