VERY common question on internal medicine wards, and important to recognize as early as possible! The mnemonic commonly used is “DEMENTIA”


Ears and Eyes (i.e Deafness or Blindness)

Metabolic Derangement (i.e Chronic Hypercalcemia, Hypo and hyper thyroidism, Adrenal insufficiency)

Emotional (Depression)

Nutrition (i.e B12 deficiency, also B1, B6) Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Trauma (i.e Subdural hematoma), Tumor (i.e Neoplasm or Intracranial abscess)

Infection (i.e Neurosyphilis, Encephalitis (limbic, HIV, herpes), Lyme’s disease, Whipple’s disease)

Alcohol (i.e Wernicke encephalopathy) – but also consider other recreation drug use!


  1. Protocols in Primary Care Geriatrics. John P. Sloan, M.D. 2nd edition. Springer Publishing 1996
  2. Draper B. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1991 Dec; 25(4):506-18.
  3. Tripathi M, Vibha D. Reversible dementias. Journal of Psychiatry. 2009;51(Suppl1):S52-S55.

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