A Guide to the Causes and Symptoms of Dementia


Dementia is not a single condition but rather a group of conditions that cause mental decline severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the best-known type of dementia, and it is also the most common. However, there are several other types that have an impact on mostly older adults. Each type of dementia has unique symptoms and causes, but there are a few generalities that all dementias share. Here is what you need to know.

Generally speaking, dementia is caused by brain cell damage. The region of the brain in which the damage occurs determines the kind of dementia a person gets. For example, with Alzheimer’s disease, damage usually starts in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and reasoning. For this reason, memory loss is one of the earliest warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of the brain damage determines how treatable dementia is. In some cases, such as Alzheimer’s, doctors are not sure what causes changes in the brain. These types of dementia are usually untreatable and get progressively worse. In other cases, depression, medication side effects, thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies, and alcohol use cause brain cell damage. If one of those known triggers is to blame, dementia may improve when that condition is addressed.

Different types of dementia have different symptoms. However, there is a set of criteria doctors use to diagnose dementia that are common in all types. To receive a diagnosis of dementia, a patient must be impaired in at least two of the following areas: visual perception, reasoning, memory, communication, and ability to focus. After meeting these criteria, doctors will consider other symptoms to diagnose a specific type of dementia.

At Avalon Memory Care, our assisted living services are designed to support residents with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Our home-like communities are comfortable and safe, so our residents and their families can feel confident in our care. Learn more about our assisted care services by calling (214) 752-7050.