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  • Writer's pictureLori Williams

Is it Dementia or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)?

Did you know that some people diagnosed with dementia may not have dementia at all? Surprisingly, it’s estimated that 5 percent of people institutionalized for dementia actually have Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH).

NPH is caused when the normal production of spinal fluid goes awry and builds up in brain ventricles, which cushion and nourish the brain. This throws off brain pressure and causes neurological and physical symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty walking

  • Cognitive challenges

  • Mild dementia

  • Urinary urgency or incontinence

NPH can occur at any age, but it’s primarily seen in people age 60+. It’s estimated that more than 700,000 Americans have NPH, but fewer than 20% receive an appropriate diagnosis. NPH is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. A diagnosis of NPH can be a relief to many individuals and families, as doctors are able to treat it with surgery.

Gary Chaffee is an NPH survivor, and he recently shared his incredible story with me on my podcast, ‘Aging in Style’. Gary started showing signs of NPH when he was only in his early 30s. It wasn’t until 2001 that he received a diagnosis and shunt surgery that helped him return to normalcy. Today, at age 75, he feels like an 18-year-old with a renewed sense of purpose, and a wealth of education to share with not only seniors, but people at any age who experience similar symptoms.

To learn more about NPH call the toll free hotline: 888-598-3789, or visit Hear Gary’s amazing story on my podcast, ‘Aging in Style’ episode #96, on Apple, Google, Spotify, Alexa or by visiting my website,

Lori Williams is the owner of Lori Williams-Senior Services, LLC and the host of the podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams. For help with senior housing and services, contact Lori at 214-783-1222 or

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