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February Dementia Care Video

Not All Memory Loss Is Dementia

By Deborah Bier, PhD, director of special populations

When you or someone you love experiences a memory lapse, you may worry it is the start of dementia. Yet, most of us who have memory challenges as we age are not experiencing dementia. There are other possible causes. A doctor's visit can help you sort out the cause of your memory issue and determine if dementia is involved. Some of the most common causes of non-dementia memory loss are:

  1. Normal age-related memory challenges that are a result of slowing memory processing, more time needed to recall information and a decreasing ability to multitask. There have been indications this type of memory challenge can be helped through physical exercise.
  2. Drug interactions and side effects that can mimic dementia, or make an underlying dementia worse. Make sure your physician has a full list of medications (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and reviews them as a possible cause of memory problems. Prior to the doctor's visit, you may want to consult your pharmacist to identify possible medication culprits, so your doctor can focus more on the next steps.
  3. Other illnesses that have symptoms similar to dementia. These medical conditions include anemia, hypothyroidism, nutritional deficiencies, depression and others. Appropriate treatment may reduce or eliminate the memory problems.

The conditions above should be carefully explored by a physician prior to making a dementia diagnosis. Even when there is dementia, medication problems and other potential conditions should be considered and addressed as needed.

Watch our video to learn more about the topic.

DementiaWise - a fresh approach to effective dementia care strategies


Deborah Bier, PhD | Director of Special Populations

ComForCare | At Your Side Home Care

Deborah Bier hosts monthly videos that focus on real-life issues for families and health care professionals who care for people with dementia.

She has a master’s in counseling psychology and a doctorate in therapeutic counseling. In addition, Deborah has obtained the following credentials:

  • Certified Alzheimer's Educator™ – National Certification Board for Alzheimer & Aging Care
  • Certified Dementia Practitioner® – National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners
  • Certified Dementia Care Partner – Dementia Care Professionals of America, a division of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • Certificate in Gerontology – Allegra Learning Solutions, LLC
  • Mental Health First Aid – National Council for Behavioral Health