Psychiatrist Blog

What are the first signs of dementia?

old man with dementia

– Prior to developing dementia a person will develop symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment often presents with signs of forgetfulness. For example, you may notice that you commonly set things down and forget where you put them. You may also begin to ask someone the same question repetitively without knowledge that you had previously asked them the question. When these symptoms worsen and begin to affect your activities of daily living, such as not being able to remember if you took a shower or ate breakfast, then you may meet the criteria for dementia.

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?
– This is a common question that I get from patients, and the answer is quite simple. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. There are several different forms of dementia – vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lew bodies, and Alzheimer’s dementia. While there are many symptoms that overlap between the different types of dementia, there are certain characteristics that can help distinguish between them.

How do we treat?
– Unfortunately, when someone develops dementia there is no cure. However, we can utilize medications to help manage the symptoms of dementia. Medications such as Aricept can help to improve cognition, while Namenda can be neuroprotective. Often times patients with dementia will display behavioral disturbances in the form of anxiety, depression, agitation, and irritability. When this occurs, we commonly to utilize anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-psychotics to help manage their symptoms.

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