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Dianne Feinstein’s cause of death hasn’t been disclosed, but it likely wasn’t dementia

Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein during a committee hearing in 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

No cause of death has been disclosed for Dianne Feinstein, the longtime California senator who struggled with evident health problems in her final years before her death Friday.

She was absent from the U.S. Senate for nearly three months earlier this year while recovering from a case of shingles that led to encephalitis, a rare complication that causes inflammation and swelling in the brain. She was briefly hospitalized in August after falling at her home and was often seen in a wheelchair in public.

Indications that Feinstein, 90, was struggling with memory problems have persisted for years, even before the acknowledged health crises in the last year of her life.


“You would typically not see someone functioning, walking, talking. Usually people are bedridden at that point,” said Dr. Mark Mapstone, a neuropsychologist at UC Irvine.

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