Dementia can be a difficult condition to diagnose. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, “approximately three-quarters of people with dementia have not received a diagnosis, and therefore do not have access to treatment, care and organized support that getting a formal diagnosis can provide.”

One of the reasons for dementia going undiagnosed is because it develops slowly, and the symptoms associated with it are sometimes difficult to spot or are even mistaken as normal aspects of aging. Additionally, many people only link memory loss and confusion with dementia, causing other common symptoms to go unnoticed.

Even if someone is aware of all the signs of dementia and begins to notice them in themselves or a loved one, this does not always mean the onset of dementia. In fact, there are treatable conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms, so it is important to seek the advice of a doctor and receive a proper diagnosis to get the right treatment and care.

Our team at Community Senior Life is sharing three of these treatable health conditions that can mimic dementia-like symptoms.

Medication Side Effects & Drug Interactions

AARP states, “older adults are more likely than younger people to develop cognitive impairment as a side effect of a medication, and drug toxicity is the culprit in as many as 12 percent of patients who present with suspected dementia, research shows.”

Whether you take prescription medication or an over-the-counter drug, many possible side effects can cause dementia-like symptoms. Several types of medications can affect a person’s cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning abilities), but the most common include those for sleep, pain, anxiety, and allergies.

While certain medications can affect cognition on their own, this effect could happen when certain drugs are taken together and interact with one another. This is why it is important to tell your doctor everything you regularly take, including vitamins and supplements.

Furthermore, even a prescription you have been taking for a long time can begin to cause dementia-like symptoms. According to AARP, “the reason why…is that your kidneys and liver become less effective at clearing drugs from your body as you get older, so medication can build up in your system over time and cause problems.”


The American Diabetes Association states, “the percentage of Americans age 65 and older [with diabetes] remains high, at 29.2%, or 15.9 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed).”

When you eat, your body breaks down some of the food into glucose (sugar), increasing your blood sugar levels. As this happens, your pancreas is signaled to release insulin, allowing your cells to use this glucose as energy.

However, when an individual is living with diabetes, their body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it as well as it should, resulting in too much blood sugar remaining in the bloodstream.

When this happens, dementia-like symptoms such as memory problems, confusion, irritability, or lack of concentration are possible.

Urinary Tract Infection

Developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) becomes more common with age and is usually easily treated with antibiotics. However, older individuals who experience a UTI are less “likely to have typical symptoms like pain during urination, fever, or a frequent urge to go (Daily Caring).” Instead, their symptoms could show up as those very similar to dementia, including:

  • A sudden change in behavior
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Delusions
  • Trouble with memory

If you have noticed any symptoms that could be a sign of dementia in yourself or a loved one, it is important to talk to a doctor. Whatever the diagnosis, catching it early is key for treating the condition.

If the diagnosis does come back as dementia, memory care programs, like the ones offered in our communities throughout Alabama, could help delay the progression of the condition and enhance your or your loved one’s quality of life.

At Community Senior Life, we are dedicated to providing dementia care that is unsurpassed. Our caregivers work closely with every resident to ensure their unique needs are met in a safe and welcoming environment where they can thrive and have meaningful experiences.

Visit our website or contact a member of our team to learn more about our memory care communities in Alabama.