About Dementia

Dementia itself is not a disease, but rather a collection of symptoms that is caused by some other condition. The causes of dementia can vary, because there are different types of brain changes (i.e., pathology) in different regions of the brain. Many conditions that cause dementia are neurodegenerative, meaning that they cause brain cells to lose function or die off over time. The underlying reasons for the brain changes for most types of neurodegenerative dementias are unknown. Some forms of dementia can be treated and reversed, but others cannot. Therefore, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis so that the best plan can be made.

Types of Dementia

Different forms of dementia are caused by different underlying changes to the brain.

Types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: The most common form of dementia which is related to the unhealthy buildup of proteins in the brain called beta-amyloid and tau
  • Lewy body dementia:Cognitive impairment associated with the unhealthy accumulation of proteins called Lewy bodies in brain cells
  • Vascular dementia: Cognitive impairment caused by a loss of blood flow and oxygen to the brain
  • Frontotemporal dementia: Cognitive impairment resulting from unhealthy protein accumulation or damage to the frontal or temporal regions of the brain
  • Mixed dementia: A combination of multiple forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Symptoms of Dementia

The exact symptoms of dementia vary based on the underlying cause and the areas of the brain most affected. In many cases, dementia symptoms become more severe over time.

Symptoms of dementia may include:

  • Difficulty planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty remembering past events
  • Trouble learning new information

Risk Factors for Dementia

Each form of dementia is associated with unique risk factors.

Risk factors for dementia may include:

  • Age: Most conditions that cause dementia become more common with advancing age
  • Comorbid conditions: Many forms of dementia are associated with another condition that causes damage to the brain. For example, vascular dementia is associated with cardiovascular conditions affecting the blood flow to the brain
  • Family history: Some forms of dementia are thought to be influenced by genetics

Treating Dementia at UT Health Austin

While some forms of dementia can be treated and reversed, others cannot, making it important to get an accurate diagnosis so that you and your doctor can establish the best plan of action. Our clinic uses an interprofessional approach, which means our patients have contact with multiple team members coming from multiple specialties. We discuss each patient as a team to identify the diagnosis and to develop a tailored treatment plan specific to your needs. Whatever your needs are, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Comprehensive Memory Center care team includes neurologists, a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologists, nurses, a speech-language pathologist, social workers, and more who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with referring physicians and other partners in the community to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Comprehensive Memory Center

Health Transformation Building, 8th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
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Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences

Health Transformation Building, 7th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions