THYROID DISEASE for example. The thyroid makes hormones that keep all systems in the body running smoothly. Thyroid disease usually develops slowly, which is why symptoms might be mistaken for normal aging. Having too little or too much thyroid hormone could cause dementia-like symptoms. A simple blood test can measure thyroid levels and if it IS thyroid issues, they can usually be treated with medications.
DIABETES. Per the American Diabetes Association, 25% of people in the US over 60 have diabetes. Undiagnosed diabetes could be causing memory problems, confusion, irritability, or lack of concentration. The body needs a certain amount of glucose (sugar) to keep blood vessels functioning properly. Too much or too little glucose damages blood vessels in the brain and can cause dementia-like symptoms. Catching it early and getting proper treatment is essential for reversing symptoms.
ALCOHOL ABUSE. Heavy drinking destroys brain cells over time, in areas that are critical for memory, thinking, decision making and balance. It can also lead to an unhealthy diet that doesn't include essential vitamins that can cause confusion, memory loss, hostility, and agitation. The effects of long-term abuse can cause cognitive issues but can be reversed with a doctors care.
VISION or HEARING ISSUES. It can sometimes seem like someone has dementia when they can't see or hear well. If these problems are left untreated, it can cause loved ones to become more isolated which could (in turn) cause more cognitive impairment. Make sure to get eyes and ears checked regularly.
HEART or LUNG CONDITIONS. The brain gets oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for proper functioning from the heart and lungs. When vascular (blood vessels) or lung disease interferes with the delivery of blood or oxygen to the brain, they can cause vascular dementia. These conditions can also affect alertness, memory and executive function. Get proper treatment for heart or lung conditions as soon as possible to prevent or delay symptoms caused by lack of blood or oxygen to the brain.
LIVER or KIDNEY DISEASE. Problems with cognitive function can happen when toxic metabolic waste builds up in the blood. Diseases of the liver or kidney can cause this toxic metabolic waste to build up. If your loved one has (or you suspect they have) liver or kidney disease, see a doctor for treatment to keep this managed.
TUMORS. Weather malignant or benign, brain tumors can seem like dementia, especially if it is a slow-growing tumor. They can interfere with the brain's functioning and result in personality changes. Again, never assume it's dementia. Always insist on testing!
CANCER. You know cancer used to be the most feared word in a doctor/hospital setting. Now, the most feared word? Dementia. However, different types of cancer can affect cognitive function by destroying brain tissue, increasing pressure inside the head, or producing chemicals that affect the brain. Either way, it's always better to know what you are up against.
Why would anyone want to hear it's cancer, or a tumor or liver or kidney disease, heart disease or diabetes rather than dementia? Well. All these things have treatments if not cures. All these things offer hope. A chance. Dementia is the only disease listed here with no cure. No survivors. No hope. Not yet, not today anyway. But there is always tomorrow and one of these tomorrow's...there will be.