chapter  18
16 Pages

Influence of Comorbidities in Dementia

ByDennis T. Villareal

Dementia in the elderly is a major and increasing public health problem that is often treatable.

Because of advancing age, most dementia patients experience several concurrent medical

problems. Only 13% of nursing home residents are free of chronic illness, and 50% have two or

more chronic illnesses. Many of these comorbid conditions are capable of altering brain function

and can on their own produce a dementia-type syndrome or contribute to dementia. It is important

to identify these comorbidities because treatment not only can slow the cognitive decline or

dementing process, but also in some cases, reverse the dementia. In addition, treatment of comorbid

disorders may improve quality of life, morbidity, and survival of older patients with dementia. This

chapter will review the comorbid conditions that can adversely affect cognition and complicate the

presentation of older persons with dementia.