6 Medical Problems That Can Mimic Dementia

senior woman looking in medicine cabinet

If you’re an older adult experiencing memory lapses, lack of focus or confusion — or you have a loved one with those symptoms — it’s natural to worry about dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

But other treatable conditions can cause similar symptoms, and they can be easy for doctors to miss, says Ardeshir Hashmi, M.D., a geriatrician and section chief of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine.

“Sometimes there’s just a very superficial workup and then [the doctor says], ‘Here’s a pill for Alzheimer’s,’ ” Hashmi says. (While no drug has been proved to stop or slow the progression of dementia, there are several federally approved medications that can help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.) “Before you make that conclusion, you should rule out all the other things that can be confused with dementia — things that are easily reversible.”

To find out more from AARP about some common medical problems that can be mistaken for dementia, CLICK HERE. ​​