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Dementia (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Aging is the main risk factor for all types of dementia. Some diseases that cause dementia (such as early-onset Alzheimer's disease and some frontotemporal dementias) may run in families.

You have a greater chance of developing vascular dementia if you:

When To Call a Doctor

Call or other emergency services immediately if signs of a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) develop suddenly. These may include:

  • Numbness, weakness, or inability to move the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes, such as dimness, blurring, double vision, loss of vision, or a sensation that a shade is being pulled down over your eyes.
  • Confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Call a doctor immediately if a person suddenly becomes confused or emotionally upset or doesn't seem to know who or where he or she is. These are signs of delirium, which can be caused by a reaction to medicines or a new or worsening medical condition.

Call a doctor if you or a person you are close to has new and troubling memory loss that is more than an occasional bout of forgetfulness. This may be an early sign of dementia.

Watchful waiting

Occasional forgetfulness or memory loss can be a normal part of aging. But any new or increasing memory loss or problems with daily living should be reported to a doctor. Learn the warning signs of dementia, and talk to a doctor if you or a family member shows any of these signs. They include increased trouble finding the right words when speaking, getting lost going to familiar places, and acting more irritable or suspicious than usual.

Who to see

The following health professionals can evaluate symptoms of memory loss or confusion:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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