Diseases and Conditions that Mimic AD

Many people with dementia have brain abnormalities associated with multiple causes.34-36 This condition is referred to as mixed dementia.1 Various health conditions commonly cause dementia (Figure 2). Each condition is associated with unique symptoms and brain abnormalities. For example, the initial symptoms for vascular dementia are typically impaired judgment, inability to make decisions, and/or inability to organize. Dementia commonly occurs after a brain injury such as blood vessel blockage, blood vessel damage, and/or bleeding in the brain. As such, the location, extent, and number of injuries will determine the type of dementia that develops. In contrast, the initial symptom of AD is typically memory loss. Other health conditions that may produce dementia-like symptoms are listed in Figure 3. Conditions associated with dementia-like symptoms can often be reversed with proper treatment of the underlying condition.37

Figure 2. Health conditions that commonly cause dementia.1,35,38,39
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal lobar degeneration
  • Mixed dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Figure 3. Common causes of dementia like symptoms.1,39
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Medication side effects
  • Thyroid problems
  • Vitamin deficiencies