Living Reference Work Entry

Mental Health and Illness of the Elderly

Part of the series Mental Health and Illness Worldwide pp 1-34

Date: Latest Version

Physical Comorbidities Associated with Late-Life Dementia

  • Susan KurrleAffiliated withFaculty of Medicine, University of SydneyNational Health and Medical Research Council Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital Email author 
  • , Roseanne HogarthAffiliated withDementia Program, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
  • , Henry BrodatyAffiliated withAgeing and Mental Health, University of New South WalesDementia Collaborative Research Centre, University of New South WalesCentre for Healthy Brain Ageing, University of New South Wales


There are a number of physical health conditions (physical comorbidities) that occur more commonly in people with late-life dementia than in the general population of the same age. This chapter provides an overview of these physical conditions which accompany and complicate dementia. These include delirium, epilepsy, falls, weight loss and nutritional disorders, incontinence, sleep disturbance, visual disturbance, oral disease, and frailty. The chapter describes how these conditions may present, what the underlying pathology is likely to be, and gives detailed information and evidence-based recommendations on how to recognize and manage these conditions. It aims to provide practical explanations and suggestions on improving care for people with late-life dementia.


Dementia Physical comorbidity Delirium Epilepsy Falls Weight loss Incontinence Sleep disturbance Visual disturbance Oral disease Frailty