Influence of Comorbidities in Dementia
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.