Dementia

Dementia Specialists
Seacoast Medical Associates, an adult primary care practice in Newburyport, Massachusetts, treats dementia in geriatric patients. Our providers optimize the patient's day to day function and aim to slow down the rate of progression of memory loss. Dr. Navarra has a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine and Added Qualifications in Geriatrics from the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Navarra has extensive experience managing patients with dementia as well as other geriatric syndromes.

Dementia Q & A

Seacoast Medical Associates

What causes dementia?

There is no simple answer to this question, as the cause of dementia varies. Some of the most common causes of dementia include:

  • A primary diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Certain medications
  • Deficiency of vitamin B12
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Abnormalities in thyroid function

A thorough exam helps identify the most probable culprit of dementia so a qualified geriatric health professional can treat or slow the underlying cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of dementia?

While most people associate memory problems with dementia, dementia affects a number of bodily systems and functions. The most common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Tremors
  • Frustration, anger, or aggression
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • Stiffness or weakness of the muscles, and sometimes paralysis
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Inability to concentrate

Signs and symptoms may appear slowly, but patients should seek medical treatment at the first sign so they can receive an early diagnosis and treatment.

When should patients visit their primary care provider?

Because the onset of dementia is generally slow and subtle, it’s imperative that patients seek treatment at the first sign of dementia. This allows the healthcare team to uncover the cause, start treatment as soon as possible, and limit the impact of dementia on the patient’s life.

How prevalent is dementia and can it be treated?

The reported number of dementia cases decreased since 2000, from 11.6% of adults 65 years old and older to just 8.8% in 2012.

How dementia is treated and the efficacy of treatment depends on the underlying causes of the symptoms. For example, patients suffering from dementia due to a vitamin B12 deficiency receive treatment and recover. On the other hand, patients suffering from dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured, though certain medications and interventions slow the progression of the disease.

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