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Dementia Overview (cont.)

Can dementia be prevented?

No known way to prevent irreversible dementia or even many types of reversible dementia exists. The following may help prevent certain types of dementia:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, moderate use of alcohol, and no smoking or substance abuse
  • Taking precautions to prevent infections (such as practicing safe sex)
  • Using protective equipment such as a seat belt or motorcycle helmet to prevent head injury

The following may allow early treatment and at least partial reversal of dementia:

  • Being alert for symptoms and signs that suggest dementia
  • Early recognition of underlying medical conditions, such as hypoxia, HIV infection, low glucose levels, or low sodium levels

What is the life expectancy for a person with dementia?

The outlook for most types of dementia is poor unless the cause is an early recognized reversible condition. Irreversible or untreated dementia usually continues to worsen over time. The condition usually progresses over years until the person's death. Life expectancy after diagnosis averages about 8-10 years with a range from about 3-20 years.

Making decisions about end-of-life care is important.

  • The earlier in the disease these issues are discussed, the more likely the person with dementia will be able to express his or her wishes about medical care at the end of life.
  • The issues may be presented by your health care professional. If not, ask about them.
  • These issues include use of aggressive interventions and hospital care, artificial feeding, and medical treatment for medical illnesses.
  • These issues should be discussed by family members and decisions made about how to deal with them when the time comes.
  • The decisions should be documented in the person's medical records.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016

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Delirium, Dementia, and Amnesia »

Delirium, dementia, amnesia, and certain other alterations in cognition are subsumed under more general terms such as mental status change (MSC), acute confusional state (ACS), or organic brain syndrome (OBS).

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