Many health problems can be a cause. Some common ones are:

  • Alzheimer dementia
  • Brain damage after many small strokes
  • Lewy body disease
  • Front-temporal dementia, such as Pick disease
  • Huntington disease
  • Brain injury
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion disorders
  • Parkinson disease

Risk Factors

It is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having other people in your family who have it
  • Down syndrome
  • Having head trauma
  • Having health problems that damage the heart and blood vessels, such as:
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Multiple strokes



Symptoms start slowly and get worse with time. A person may have:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of focus
  • Problems making choices or plans
  • Problems naming things
  • Problems with getting lost in familiar places
  • Mood swings
  • Slowness when moving
  • Pulled away from other people


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Tests on memory, thought processes, and the nervous system will also be done. Images of the brain may be taken with:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • PET/CT scan



The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms. There is no cure for dementia. Some symptoms can be managed with medicines such as:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking
  • Memantine to decrease abnormal activity in the brain

Lifestyle Changes

These changes may also be helpful:

  • Getting light exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet or something like it
  • Making the home a calm and safe place
  • Getting personal comfort needs met, such as hunger, thirst, and emotions
  • Using memory aides
  • Choosing a person who can make medical and other key choices for a person if they are not able to


The exact cause of dementia is not known. General tips for brain health include:

  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes or more of activity each week.
  • Eat a healthful diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, olive oil, and fish.
  • If you drink, drink in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reach or stay at a healthy weight.
  • Manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Look for ways to challenge and grow mental abilities throughout life. This could mean learning new skills or completing mental games and puzzles.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.