5 Treatable Conditions That Mimic the Symptoms of Dementia

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When an older loved one exhibits signs of cognitive impairment, don’t automatically assume he or she has dementia. The problem may be caused by an underlying but treatable condition. Many conditions, including the following, cause symptoms that mimic dementia.

1. Alcohol Abuse

Years of excessive alcohol consumption may damage the neurons responsible for memory, decision-making, problem solving, and physical movement. Alcoholics also tend to favor drinking over eating a healthy diet. As such, they develop vitamin B1 deficiencies that lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The symptoms include agitation, hostility, confusion, and memory loss. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is often alleviated once the senior stops drinking and begins eating healthier. Some may require thiamine supplementation. 

Some seniors may require constant supervision while going through withdrawal from medication or alcohol. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Bethlehem, PA, live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

2. Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association reports that approximately 25 percent of adults aged 60 or older live with diabetes. When the condition isn’t diagnosed and treated, seniors may appear confused, and they might become angry easily, exhibit memory loss, or be unable to concentrate. The cognitive symptoms develop because neurons need glucose to function properly. When the pancreas malfunctions and cannot produce enough insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells. Glucose accumulates in the blood with nowhere to go and is flushed from the body. Once diabetes is diagnosed, seniors receive medications that enable glucose to enter cells and reduce blood sugar levels.

3. Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid is responsible for making hormones that control several bodily functions, including cognitive ability. When the thyroid becomes either underactive or overactive, seniors exhibit several unusual symptoms. An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, slows body functions. An older adult may have difficulty with short-term memory. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, may lead to feeling anxious or nervous. The senior may experience mood swings or lose touch with reality and hallucinate. Diagnosing and treating the problem with medication or surgical intervention may resolve cognitive issues and other symptoms.

4. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The body needs vitamin B12 to make DNA, nerve cells, and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur when adults adhere to a vegan diet, develop gastrointestinal disorders, or chronically use antacids. The resulting condition is known as pernicious anemia and leads to the production of abnormal red blood cells or a lack of red blood cells. Affected seniors may also exhibit confusion, mood changes, or apathy. Correction involves consuming dairy products and lean meats daily. Otherwise, older adults may need vitamin B12 injections.

Some seniors have mobility issues or health conditions that make it difficult to plan and prepare nutritious meals on their own. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Bethlehem in-home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

5. Urinary Tract Infections

When older adults develop urinary tract infections, they may not have fevers or burning when attempting to void, and they may not feel the need to empty their bladders frequently. Some develop incontinence. Oftentimes, seniors exhibit cognitive symptoms and strange behavioral changes, such as confusion, mood swings, or hallucinations. Once the infection is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, the symptoms disappear. 

If your loved one is ultimately diagnosed with dementia, he or she can still live at home in safety and comfort with the help of a professional caregiver. Bethlehem elderly home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers. Call Home Care Assistance today at 484-350-3874 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.