Dementia, Easy-to-Read

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Dementia, Easy-to-Read


Dementia is a condition that affects the way the brain works. It often affects memory and thinking. There are many types of dementia. Some types get worse with time and cannot be reversed. Some types of dementia include:
  • Alzheimer's disease. This is the most common type.
  • Vascular dementia. This type may happen due to a stroke.
  • Lewy body dementia. This type may happen to people who have Parkinson's disease.
  • Frontotemporal dementia. This type is caused by damage to nerve cells in certain parts of the brain.

Some people may have more than one type.

What are the causes?

This condition is caused by damage to cells in the brain. Some causes that cannot be reversed include:
  • Having a condition that affects the blood vessels of the brain, such as diabetes, heart disease, or blood vessel disease.
  • Changes to genes.

Some causes that can be reversed or slowed include:
  • Injury to the brain.
  • Certain medicines.
  • Infection.
  • Not having enough vitamin B12 in the body, or thyroid problems.
  • A tumor, blood clot, or too much fluid in the brain.
  • Certain diseases that cause your body's defense system (immune system) to attack healthy parts of the body.

What are the signs or symptoms?

  • Problems remembering events or people.
  • Having trouble taking a bath or putting clothes on.
  • Forgetting appointments.
  • Forgetting to pay bills.
  • Trouble planning and making meals.
  • Having trouble speaking.
  • Getting lost easily.
  • Changes in behavior or mood.

How is this treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of the dementia. It might include:
  • Taking medicines for symptoms or to help control or slow down the dementia.
  • Treating the cause of your dementia.

Your doctor can help you find support groups and other doctors who can help with your care.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Use a pill organizer to help you manage your medicines.
  • Avoidtaking medicines for pain or for sleep.


  • Make healthy choices:
    • Be active as told by your doctor.
    • Do not smoke or use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor.
    • Do not drink alcohol.
    • When you get stressed, do something that will help you relax. Your doctor can give you tips.
    • Spend time with other people.
  • Make sure you get good sleep. To get good sleep:
    • Try not to take naps during the day.
    • Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
    • In the few hours before you go to bed, try not to do any exercise.
    • Do not have foods and drinks with caffeine at night.

Eating and drinking

  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee (urine) pale yellow.
  • Eat a healthy diet.

General instructions

  • Talk with your doctor to figure out:
    • What you need help with.
    • What your safety needs are.
  • Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to drive.
  • If told, wear a bracelet that tracks where you are or shows that you are a person with memory loss.
  • Work with your family to make big decisions.
  • Keep all follow-up visits.

Where to find more information

Contact a doctor if:

  • You have any new symptoms.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have problems with swallowing or choking.

Get help right away if:

  • You feel very sad, or feel that you want to harm yourself.
  • Your family members are worried for your safety.

Get help right away if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life. Go to your nearest emergency room or:
  • Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988 in the U.S. This is open 24 hours a day.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.


  • Dementia often affects memory and thinking.
  • Some types of dementia get worse with time and cannot be reversed.
  • Treatment for this condition depends on the cause.
  • Talk with your doctor to figure out what you need help with.
  • Your doctor can help you find support groups and other doctors who can help with your care.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.