Cause & Treatment

What causes Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia? Contrary to popular myths, dementia is not often caused by genetics.
two senior smiling and talking on a couch

Contrary to popular myth, dementia is not often inherited

A blend of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors causes dementia. The exact cause of most types of dementia is yet to be fully understood by scientists. Heredity and family history only contribute to a small percentage of Alzheimer's cases (less than 5%) and frontotemporal dementia (10-15%).

Get a diagnosis early

Medications that manage dementia symptoms are most effective in the early stages of the disease. An early diagnosis will let you continue your best possible life.

Alzheimer risk factors

Advancing age: As people get older, the risk of dementia increases.

  • By age 65, one out of every nine people may experience this condition.
  • By age 80, the risk increases to one out of every three people.

Family history: If there is a history of Alzheimer's in your family, your risk of developing the disease is higher. This risk further increases with the number of family members impacted by Alzheimer's.

Can you reverse dementia symptoms?

Unfortunately, most dementias cannot be corrected. You can reverse only a few causes of dementia-like symptoms:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Thyroid disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Depression
  • Delirium


Watch Dr. Eric Smith answer some common questions about treatments for dementia.