Dementia can occur with several different diseases. It refers to symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Once thought to be a normal effect of aging, dementia is now known to be caused by brain cell damage.
The University of Kansas Health System provides dementia screening and treatment options for people in the Kansas City region and beyond. Our skilled professionals focus on accurately diagnosing dementia and its cause. We provide treatment to control symptoms and slow progression of the disease.
What is dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease. Instead, it refers to a combination of conditions that impair normal brain functions like memory and judgment. One of the most common forms of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there are many additional forms of dementia. Our neurology team can help determine the precise causes of dementia in older adults.
Dementia symptoms and risks
Common indicators of dementia include:
- Changes in behavior and personality
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Difficulty with planning, organizing or concentrating
- Language problems, such as struggling to get words out or understand spoken words
- Memory loss
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing dementia:
Dementia diagnosis and screening
Properly diagnosing dementia and the type of dementia is challenging. Doctors need to identify the particular pattern of memory loss and cognitive decline. Some types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, have certain biomarkers (measurable signs) that help doctors make a more accurate diagnosis.
A dementia diagnosis begins with a complete medical history and symptom review. Your doctor will ask questions about daily life and will likely also interview a person close to you as well, such as a spouse or other caregiver. Your doctor may also ask you to take tests that measure certain thinking and memory skills.
In some cases, your doctor may request additional tests and scans:
- A PET scan can show the presence of certain protein deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease
- An MRI or CT scan can take pictures of your brain to find evidence of a stroke
- Lab tests to check for a vitamin deficiency or underlying health conditions that could affect cognitive ability, such as a urinary tract infection
Support for caregivers
Dementia, unfortunately, cannot be cured. But there are treatments that help people manage dementia symptoms and optimize their quality of life:
- Medications that ease mood, behavior and sleep challenges
- Physical and mental exercises
- Social stimulation
Why choose us for dementia treatment
- In partnership with the University of Kansas Medical Center, we are one of only 32 nationally designated Alzheimer's disease centers in the nation.
- Several of our neurologists focus solely on dementia and memory disorders and offer expertise second to none. In addition to leading the field in patient care, these specialists conduct innovative research that may one day yield a cure.
- To help patients in all aspects of coping with dementia, we partner with Turning Point to assist patients and families in managing challenges associated with dementia.
Leading research and clinical trials
As part of one of the nation's premier academic medical centers, our care providers are committed to research and scientific discovery through the University of Kansas Medical Center. We can often include our patients in potentially lifesaving clinical trials and treatment options not available anywhere else.
Your dementia care team
Ranked among the nation’s best
Our program ranked among the nation’s best in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2020-21. Rankings are based on measurable achievements in quality, safety, nursing excellence and more. We are proud to provide you and your loved ones with nationally recognized neurology and neurosurgery care.