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Is It Dementia Or Something Else

Common Forms Of Dementia

Dementia Care Partner Talk Show Podcast: Ep. 85 – Are They Lying, or Something Else?

Alzheimers disease symptoms include a progressive loss of recent memory problems with language, calculation, abstract thinking, and judgment depression or anxiety personality and behavioral changes and disorientation to time and place. LBD is frequently misdiagnosed as Alzheimers disease, especially in the early stage. Over time, changes in movement, hallucinations or RBD can help distinguish LBD from Alzheimers disease.Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term for a form of dementia that has three common presentations.

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Is It Really Dementia Or Is It Something Else

Forgetting the keys, getting lost in a store, or even forgetting the date. When we hear about people doing these things or having other changes in thinking, we often attribute it to dementia or Alzheimers disease, especially when these signs occur in older individuals. But is that really a fair assessment? Does change in memory and thinking mean an individual is developing dementia, or could it be something else? It turns out there are many different types of dementia and other conditions that can affect an individuals thinking and memory. Many of these are reversible or treatable. Lets take a closer look at some of these non-dementia illnesses to better understand in what ways they are similar, but also what makes them different.

Struggling To Adapt To Change

For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.

Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.

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Dementia Doesn’t Always Mean Alzheimer’s

Dementia is any memory loss or thinking problem caused by changes in your brain. Alzheimer’s is just one type. Your memory also can be harmed by many other health issues, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or a buildup of fluid on your brain.

If you notice symptoms that have you concerned, see a doctor right away. They’ll give you a thorough exam that may include taking a sample of your blood for testing, brain imaging, and neurological testing to figure out what’s going on with your health and get you help.

Symptoms Associated With Lbd

Are You Suffering From Lewy Body Dementia or Something Else?

As we mentioned earlier lewy body dementia is a slow and gradual disease wherein the symptoms worsen gradually. Most of the symptoms of LBD are overlapping with symptoms of other diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons. However, there are some signs of the disease that can be alarming and should ring the warning bells:

  • Gradual decline in mental abilities: LBD patients can have lower attention span and experience reduced mental alertness and confusion.
  • Hallucinations: Patients suffering from LBD are often known to hallucinate seeing animals, people and visions that don’t actually exist. Depression can also be a symptom along with the hallucinations.
  • Inability to carry out everyday tasks: Like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, LBD can hamper your everyday ability to carry out the simplest of tasks.
  • Sudden loss of balance: Persons suffering from LBD are often prone to falling and can even faint.
  • Disturbed sleep: LBD can often result in sleep-related disorders like insomnia, screaming during sleep, hitting and so on.

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Dr Hilary Issues Warning About Missed Dementia Diagnoses

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Dementia is a life-changing diagnosis. In the early stages, dementia can be difficult to spot, with many different signs and symptoms that can easily be mistaken for another condition.

As well as this, symptoms usually begin mildly and progress slowly, making them more difficult to spot as you age.

There are also no reliable tests, such as blood tests, that can confirm a dementia diagnosis.

As dementia is much more commonly diagnosed in older generations, this presents another challenge.

If you are suffering with symptoms that could be dementia, you should arrange an appointment with your GP urgently.

If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia

Lets say youre like the man I spoke to recently, and youre worried that an older parent might have dementia. Youre planning to have a doctor assess your parent. Heres how you can help the process along:

  • Obtain copies of your parents medical information, so you can bring them to the dementia evaluation visit. The most useful information to bring is laboratory results and any imaging of the brain, such as CAT scans or MRIs. See this post for a longer list of medical information that is very helpful to bring to a new doctor.

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Medication And Treatment Of Lbd

There is no specific cure available presently to treat LBD, however there are medications that work towards treating the symptoms associated with LBD. Doctors generally work with patients to control the cognitive, motor and psychiatric disorders experienced, and they prescribe medications to deal with them. Some of the drugs that are prescribed to deal with LBD symptoms can be similar to the ones prescribed for treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons disease. Medications are given with a lot of considerations as adverse reactions from the medications could occur for a number of people. An early diagnosis is important for the doctors to administer the right medication that benefits the patient positively. Any side effects experienced upon consumption of these medications should be immediately discussed with your doctor. Medications prescribed to treat severe symptoms of LBD include:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil and rivastigmine, to relive symptoms associated with cognitive disabilities. These have also been found helpful in treating psychiatric and hallucination symptoms.
  • Levodopa is prescribed to help patients regain their movement and overcome rigidity of the body.

Communicating About Dementia With Health Care Providers

Does Trump have Alzheimer’s (or something else?)

Good communication with the primary care provider affects the well-being of the person with dementia as well as the well-being of the caregiver. Communicating your concerns clearly and describing the changes you may have observed will help guide the provider to investigate further. In some cases, you may find yourself âeducatingâ medical staff about your loved oneâs symptoms.

It is important that your concerns are taken seriously, and you are treated with respect and dignity. If you are not receiving the attention you need, you should communicate your concerns to the provider and request a referral to a resource in the community that specializes in the evaluation of people experiencing cognitive changes. The goal is to establish a partnership to both maintain the quality of health and to solve problems.

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Tips For Caregivers On Dealing With Hallucinations & Delusions

Consult a physician if your loved one is having delusions or hallucinations, to rule out other causes unrelated to dementia. Mental illness and medical conditions such as migraines, brain tumors, epilepsy, urinary tract infections, and dehydration can all be causes.

Resist the need to stop or control difficult behaviors. Think carefully about whether or not your loved one is causing a problem. If the answer is no, try letting it be. This is not to say that you have to lie to or humor your loved one you can be honest while also showing respect. For example, you might say, I dont hear or see anyone outside the window, but I know you do, and you seem worried.

Consider the situation. Investigate why a hallucination or delusion is occurring in that particular moment. Beyond mental and medical causes, there can also be environmental and social causes as well.

Keep a journal to record when, where, and how your loved one experiences delusions or hallucinations. Record how your loved one is behaving, and what sorts of events have happened recently.

Control the environment. Make sure there is sufficient lighting in the room and not too many distractions. A radio or TV, for example, might cause your loved one to hear voices and not understand that whats coming from the speakers is not actually in the room. Also, pulling curtains or shades can provide comfort for someone afraid of being watched.

Without Looking At The Brain The Correct Diagnosis Can Be Missed: Heres Why

Brain SPECT imaging is so important because not all people who struggle to remember things have a neurodegenerative disease. Sometimes their symptoms are caused by other problems, even though on the outside it might appear to be dementia. This is why actually looking at the brain is so critical for getting an accurate diagnosis.

Here is a look at 9 conditions that get diagnosed as dementia, but 4 of them are not dementia at allin fact, they are reversible brain problems!

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Can Dementia Be Inappropriately Diagnosed In A Single Visit

Sadly, yes. Although its common for doctors to never diagnose dementia at all in people who have it, I have also come across several instances of busy doctors rattling off a dementia diagnosis, without adequately documenting how they reached this conclusion.

Now, often these doctors are right. Dementia becomes common as people age, so if a family complains of memory problems and paranoia in an 89 year old, chances are quite high that the older person has dementia.

But sometimes its not. Sometimes its slowly resolving delirium along with a brain-clouding medication. Sometimes its depression.

It is a major thing to diagnose someone with dementia. So although its not possible for an average doctor to evaluate with as much detail as the memory clinic does, its important to document consideration of the five essential features as listed above.

What Are The Main Types Of Dementia

Is It Dementia or Something Else?  Better At Home

Dementia isn’t a disease in itself, it’s a term used to describe symptoms caused by other diseases that affect the brain. Knowing the type of dementia means treatment can be more specific to an individual’s needs.

The most common types of dementia are:

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that targets the part of the brain that controls memory, language and thought. Alzheimer’s and dementia often get confused with one another, which can cause upset and confusion.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease. This type of dementia is caused when the brain becomes damaged due to lack of blood supply, for instance following a stroke.

Other types of dementia

There are many other, rarer, types of dementia such as dementia with Lewy bodies or frontotemporal dementia. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease may lead to someone developing dementia.

The many different types and related conditions can be confusing and overwhelming if you have received a dementia diagnosis or know someone with it. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Dementia in the UK

  • 850,000 people have dementia in the UK.
  • 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia.
  • Only 43% of people with dementia have actually been diagnosed.

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Is It Lbd Or Something Else

Sometimes early dementia symptoms can be vague, making the type of dementia hard to identify. It may take several years for enough symptoms to develop to point to a specific type of dementia. By learning about common forms of dementia, you can help your physician most quickly identify what type of dementia has developed.

  • Some types of dementia are reversible. They may be caused by an interaction of certain medications, a vitamin deficiency or a curable illness. If you are experiencing changes in your memory or cognitive abilities, please consult with a doctor to identify the cause and begin treatment immediately.
  • For many types of dementia, there are no known cures. These types of dementia mainly affect older adults, though some people are diagnosed with early-onset dementia as young as their forties. Getting an early and accurate diagnosis along with appropriate treatment is very important since people with LBD often respond very differently to certain medications.

Why Do People With Dementia Become Incontinent

People with dementia may become incontinent for a variety of reasons and often, for several at once.

Stress Incontinence

Many older women experience stress incontinence.

When the weakened bladder muscles are stressed by a sneeze or a laugh, they may leak small amounts of urine.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is a common condition among elders, characterized by a sudden and intense need to urinate, followed by the loss of a large amount of urine.

Functional Incontinence

Mobility challenges can make it hard to get to the toilet on time.

Difficulty Managing Clothing

Unzipping or unbuttoning pants can become a challenge due to various reasons, including arthritis or cognitive changes.

Communication Deficits

People with dementia may be unable to communicate the need to use the restroom.

Cognitive Changes

A person may forget how to complete the sequence of events needed to successfully remove clothing and use the toilet.

The brain may become less able to recognize the signal from the body that it needs the bathroom.

Difficulty finding the bathroom, recognizing the toilet, or comprehending how to use it can present a major barrier.

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Frontotemporal Dementia Versus Alzheimers Disease

AD is the most common dementia in older people. Therefore, it is often one of the first diseases a doctor considers. But Alzheimers disease usually begins with memory loss, while FTD is typically a behavior or language disorder.

  • The probability of AD is strongly affected by the age of the person showing the symptoms. The odds of having Alzheimers disease increase markedly the older you get, while the odds for FTD may decrease with age.
  • FTD often begins with distinct behavioral changes while people with Alzheimers disease in the early stages tend to remain socially skillful despite their memory problems . In advanced AD, people generally have trouble managing their finances, show poor judgment and irritability, and may become equally difficult to manage as people with FTD.
  • Apathy in AD patients is milder, whereas apathy in FTD patients is more pervasive and more often reflects a lack of concern for others or lack of initiative.
  • People with AD usually have an early and profound difficulty learning and retaining new information. As the disease progresses, memory for new and old information is lost. These memory problems may lead to language problems as well, but the root is a problem remembering. In contrast, most mildly impaired FTD patients generally know the day or time and their location, and they are able to keep track of recent events. They may not test well, but that may be due to lack of concern or effort in the testing situation.

Dementia Or Something Else The 3 Conditions That Can Be Mistaken


Dementia is a life-changing diagnosis. In the early stages, dementia can be difficult to spot, with many different signs and symptoms that can easily be mistaken for another condition.

As well as this, symptoms usually begin mildly and progress slowly, making them more difficult to spot as you age.

There are also no reliable tests, such as blood tests, that can confirm a dementia diagnosis.

As dementia is much more commonly diagnosed in older generations, this presents another challenge.

If you are suffering with symptoms that could be dementia, you should arrange an appointment with your GP urgently.

Dementia can also exist alongside conditions with similar symptoms.

According to Bupa, more than nine out of 10 people with dementia have another health condition.

For example, just because someone has dementia, it doesnt mean they cant also have a thyroid problem.

If someone does have dementia and another condition, the other condition might be missed if any symptoms are just attributed to dementia, so its worth speaking to your doctor to get a comprehensive diagnosis.

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Talking With A Doctor

After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:

  • talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
  • contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team

Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia

Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.

Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
  • Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
  • Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.

Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
  • Tumor removal

Show Sources

Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â

Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â

Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â

BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â

Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â

Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â

Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â

Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â

Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â

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