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Dementia Planning

Updated March 07, 2022

Leacey Brown

SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist

Older adult man getting assistance from a young, female caregiver.
Courtesy: Canva

Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of chronic diseases that impair memory performance and function. It is important for you and your family to explore how you would want to be cared for if you were ever to receive a dementia diagnosis.

Types of Dementia

  • Alzheimer's Disease (most-common type)
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Parkinson's Disease Dementia
  • Posterior Cortical Atrophy
  • Vascular Dementia

Prognosis and Outcomes

Early signs of dementia are not usually noticeable, but it may be confused with rapid-onset conditions, such as delirium caused by a urinary tract infection. Sudden changes to cognitive function in an older adult should be reported to a medical provider immediately, even if that means a visit to the emergency room. The person could have an infection that early diagnosis and treatment could help.

Cures are not available for most forms of dementia. Available treatments for dementia focus on managing symptoms and behaviors (e.g. hoarding, sun downing, etc.). Over time, a person with dementia will become more impaired and lose more of their capacity to reason and understand the world around them. It often progresses until the person with dementia cannot do anything independently, including using the bathroom, bathing, eating or drinking. They will ultimately require 24-hour care and supervision.

Self-Reflection Questions

  1. Describe your personal experience with dementia.
  2. Describe your personal fears about dementia.
  3. Describe who you would trust to manage your personal and financial affairs if you had dementia.
  4. Describe any responsibilities you have to a friend or family member with dementia.
  5. What questions do you have about planning for elder care and dementia?


Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). Alzheimer’s and Dementia.