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What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by various disorders affecting the brain.

People with dementia have impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships. They lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, and they may experience personality changes and behavioral problems, such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations.

While memory loss is a common symptom, memory loss by itself doesn’t mean that a person has dementia. Doctors diagnose dementia only if two or more brain functions, such as memory and language skills, are significantly affected.

Although dementia is more common in older adults, it is not a normal part of the aging process.

The following conditions may cause dementia: 

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Posterior Cortical Atrophy
  • Parkinson's Disease Dementia
  • Vascular Dementia

Doctors have identified other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These include reactions to medications, nutritional deficiencies, infections, poisoning, brain tumors, heart and lung problems, metabolic and endocrine problems, and anoxia or hypoxia (when the brain’s oxygen supply is either reduced or cut off entirely).

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UR Medicine's Treatments for Dementias

Our Memory Care Program includes a team of neurologists, geriatric psychiatrists, geriatricians, neuropsychologists, family and marriage therapists, and social workers that work together to diagnose dementia and provide patients with access to the most up-to-date treatment options.

New medications to treat Alzheimer's disease and some other progressive dementias are now available. Although these drugs can't halt the disease or reverse existing brain damage, they can improve symptoms and slow the progression of decline. Many researchers are also examining whether these drugs may be useful for treating other types of dementia.

Many people with dementia, particularly those in the early stages, can benefit from mental activities that help improve brain functioning. For example, people can sometimes be taught to use memory aids, such as mnemonics,

People with moderate or advanced dementia typically need round-the-clock care and supervision to prevent them from harming themselves or others. They also may need assistance with daily activities, such as eating, bathing, and dressing.

Video: The University of Rochester Medical Center has opened the doors on a unique, innovative, and multidisciplinary memory care clinic that provides comprehensive evaluation, care, and support for people and families coping with Alzheimer's disease and other causes of progressive memory loss.

What Sets Us Apart?

We offer the most complete and advanced care in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region for people suffering from dementia.

Most importantly, we establish relationships with our patients. We treat you as a person, not a disease. We listen to you, communicate with you, and take the time to understand how your illness imposes on your life. Understanding your needs, values, and priorities is part of how we provide care.


We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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2 locations

Memory Care Program - Brighton

315 Science Parkway, Entrance B, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14620

Geriatrics Group - Brighton

1870 South Winton Road, Suite 100
Rochester, NY 14618

Patient Education & Support

Clinical Trials

The AD-CARE program at the University of Rochester Medical Center conducts clinical studies around Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn More About AD-CARE

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