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7 Conditions that Could Be Mistaken for Dementia

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Dementia is a group of symptoms that can manifest in many different forms, which can make it difficult to diagnose. 7 conditions that could be mistaken for dementia are:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Depression
  • Medication use
  • Thyroid problems
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Cancer

The fact that dementia can be so easily misdiagnosed highlights the importance of regular checkups with the doctor for a senior. It also shows the importance of surrounding oneself with the proper support staff as an older adult in senior living. Trained staff may be able to help relay the information to the doctor which can help them arrive at the correct diagnosis.

7 Conditions that Could Be Mistaken for Dementia

A confirmed dementia diagnosis can be difficult to achieve because of the nature of the condition. The following are 7 conditions that could be mistaken as dementia that need their own treatment.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A traumatic brain injury can cause significant damage to the brain tissue and result in temporary or permanent cognitive decline. TBIs are common in older adults with a history of falls or accidents, and the symptoms may affect memory, attention, and judgment, which can lead to a misdiagnosis. It’s essential to seek medical attention promptly after a head injury to prevent long-term complications.


Depression is a mental health condition that affects the way you think, feel, and act. It can cause feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and loss of interest. People with depression may also experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation. These symptoms are very similar to those of dementia and can often lead to misdiagnosis.

It’s important to note that depression is typically treatable through therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Medication Use

While they aren’t a “medical condition,” certain prescription medications side effects can cause cognitive impairment, which can be mistaken as symptoms of dementia. This includes drugs used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression, among others. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory problems or confusion and are taking medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any possible side effects. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can affect cognitive function. Hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid, can cause memory problems, decreased concentration, and depression. Hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid, can cause anxiety, restlessness, and decreased cognitive function. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a thyroid problem, it’s important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Vitamin Deficiencies 

Vitamin deficiencies, such as B12 and folic acid, can cause memory problems and confusion. A lack of these vitamins can lead to anemia, which can affect oxygen levels in the brain and result in cognitive impairment. If you’re experiencing memory problems and weakness, it’s important to talk to your doctor about getting your vitamin levels checked. Vitamin deficiencies can often be treated with supplements and dietary changes.


Infections, such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia, can cause confusion and delirium in older adults. These symptoms can be mistaken for dementia, but they can often be treated with antibiotics. If you’re experiencing sudden confusion or changes in behavior, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible to rule out any infections.


The symptoms of cancer and dementia can overlap in some cases, making it challenging for doctors to differentiate between the two. Additionally, certain types of cancer, such as brain tumors, can directly affect brain function and mimic the symptoms of dementia.

According to one study, patients with a cancer diagnosis were found to have a lower risk of developing dementia. So, this inverse relationship between cancer and dementia further complicates the diagnosis process and makes it easier for a misdiagnosis.

Diagnosing Dementia

Dementia isn’t a single disease but rather a group of symptoms that affect a person’s cognitive function. These symptoms can include memory loss, confusion, and difficulty communicating. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are other types as well, such as vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.

When it comes to a diagnosis, there is no single test that can determine if someone has dementia. Instead, doctors will typically use a combination of methods, including a physical exam, neurological assessment, and cognitive tests. They may also request laboratory tests to rule out other causes of memory loss, such as vitamin deficiency or thyroid problems.

In addition to these tests, doctors will often rely on information provided by the patient and their loved ones. This can include a detailed medical history, information about the patient’s symptoms and how they have progressed over time, and observations about the patient’s behavior and daily activities.

Find Support You Can Count On

It’s not uncommon for dementia or its related conditions to be misdiagnosed because of their complexity. That’s one reason that it’s so important to be a part of a community that supports you or your loved one in the necessary ways. One crucial support is recognizing changes and knowing how to move forward. Contact us at Fox Trail Memory Care and we’re happy to book a community tour. Our compassionate team can show you the community and explain the quality of memory care that can be expected in our communities.

Written by adminfoxtrail

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