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Is my father suffering from dementia?

Q: My 82 years old father is having normal memory but for the last week he is behaving in a different manner. He is forgetting things like he forgot he had withdrawn his pension from the bank account. He is visiting the bank daily nowadays and speaks to different person everyday in the bank about his pension. I explained him clearly that he had withdrawn his pension. But still he says that what if I can prove that I have not withdrawn pension. However, he remembers a lot of things. We consulted a doctor and he took a test for dementia, in that test my father scored 23 out of 30 marks. The doctor asked him to deduct 7 from 100 repeatedly three times and he did pretty well in that. He was able to subtract 2 times backwards too. But a similar problem has happened before too. About 9 months back he went to another city where we had one house, he went to collect the remaining payment of the house, which we had sold about 15 years back. Then about 6 months back he again went the city to collect payment of house, which we had sold about 25 years back. My mother is also a dementia patient. This has worsened the situation for me. The doctor has asked to get the MRI done, which was normal. Now he is taking Aricep 5 mg for the last 5 days on the doctor’s advice. What type of disease this could be? Another doctor advised to give Valium 5 mg twice a day. Please help.

A:From your description it seems like he may be showing signs of dementia. Dementia is a relatively common disease with increased incidence as one ages. Medications like valium are not a right choice for the memory or the confusion associated with dementia. In fact these types of medications can worsen these components and also increase the chances of fall. They may be used if there is significant aggression / agitation involved. Aricep is a medication approved for dementia and it seems to delay illness progress. In any case I suggest you have him evaluated by a physician who specializes in dementia for further diagnostic clarification and management.

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