5 Medical Conditions That May Mimic Alzheimer’s Disease

When memory loss strikes in an older adult, Alzheimer’s Disease is often one of the first thoughts that come to mind.

Image by Blackdoctor.org

While Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, there is always the possibility that memory loss could not be related to dementia at all. There are other medical conditions, besides Alzheimer’s, that can cause memory loss:

1. Delirium
Delirium is associated with impaired memory, orientation, attention, and concentration. Lots of things can cause delirium but it is often seen in older adults during times of illness or if taking a lot of medication.

It would not be uncommon for an elderly person to develop something as simple as a urinary tract infection (UTI) and then develop the symptoms listed above. You can also expect for the symptom to improve significantly with the treatment of the underlying cause. The onset is usually quick in presentation for delirium whereas Alzheimer’s typically has a slower progression of significant symptoms.

2. Depression

Memory loss can be a major complaint about those suffering from a depressive disorder. When depression presents in this way it is often referred to as “pseudodementia” or “dementia of depression”.

When a person has depression, they may experience impaired concentration and memory along with a slowing of their thoughts and movements. In older adults, special testing may be necessary to try to determine if memory loss is the result of Alzheimer’s Dementia or depression.

3. Vitamin deficiencies

Part of the physical workup for someone presenting with memory loss should include a complete blood count and a vitamin B12 level due to the fact that B12 deficiency can present with mental sluggishness and fatigue.

4. Low thyroid

Having a low level of thyroid hormone can often cause poor concentration, slower thought processing, impaired short-term memory, and slower movements. In rarer cases, thyroid disorders can lead to confusion and disorientation. This can be checked with a simple blood test.

5. Sexually transmitted diseases

Those who are HIV positive can have substantial memory impairment, slow thought processes, impaired concentration and attention, and an overall decrease in the ability to organize the thoughts and actions required to function from day to day.

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