Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
If you suspect that someone has dementia or you already know a person with the neurodegenerative illness, they must see the right dementia doctors.
One of the main reasons for this is the fact that it is usually not easy to diagnose or manage dementia.
For this reason, an ill individual needs to consult with a specialist. He or she has the knowledge and experience to effectively deal with the disease.
People who have dementia may have to visit different types of specialists to get a proper diagnosis.
This will help them get the right information on how to go about living with the illness that has no cure.
How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia
Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.
If The Diagnosis Is Dementia
Dementia is one of the health conditions that people are most afraid of.
A study by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that more than half of people wait for up to a year before getting help for dementia symptoms, because they feel afraid. But an accurate and early diagnosis can have many benefits.
After you’ve had the necessary tests , your doctor should ask if you want to know your diagnosis.
They should explain what having dementia might mean for you and give you time to talk about the condition and ask questions.
Unless you decide otherwise, your doctor, or a member of their team, should talk to you and your family or carer about:
- the type of dementia you have or, if it’s not clear, they should talk to you about being assessed again in the future
- the symptoms and how the condition might develop
- the treatments you might be offered
- the name of a health or social care professional who will co-ordinate the different types of support you need
- care and support services in your area, including support groups and voluntary organisations for people with dementia, their families and carers
- advocacy services
- how dementia will affect your driving or employment, if this applies to you
- where you can get financial and legal advice
You should also be given written information about dementia.
Also Check: Neil Diamond Alzheimer’s
Can Early Detection Help Prevent Or Treat Dementia
While there is no cure for dementia, early detection can be beneficial with putting systems in place before these symptoms worsen.
If someone is diagnosed at an earlier stage, they can begin memory treatments and take medications that can help manage the condition. Doctors also suggest putting home care and day programs in place as additional supports.
“Someone who has not been diagnosed may have a crisis of memory loss where they might be missing their medications or not eating due to forgetfulness which would then lead to a sudden health crisis and hospitalization, Frank says.
YahooStyleCA and and for our newsletter.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Dementia
Possible complications of dementia may include the following:
Inability to function or care for self. Inability to interact with others. Depression.
Lack of independence and autonomy. Difficulty in finding words. Disregard for personal hygiene. Persistent poor judgement.
Early intervention is always the best response to medical conditions. You or your loved one will be given the best treatment and care once a diagnosis is confirmed.
Read Also: Farts And Dementia
What Are Common Symptoms Of Dementia
According to experts, the most common symptom of dementia is short-term memory loss. This includes forgetting something that happened or was said within the last 10-15 minutes, repeating oneself and asking the same questions.
Dr. Andrew Frank, a cognitive neurologist at the Bruyere Memory Program at Ottawas Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital, lists other symptoms as deterioration in language, words and judgement.
The odd forgetfulness of a word or name that comes back to you later is normal, especially as we age or if we are stressed or sleep deprived. Its when the memories are not coming back at all that’s a signal of a much deeper problem.
One of the rules of thumb is that if youre realizing your own memory problem, thats a good sign because youre remembering youre forgetting, Frank explains in an interview with Yahoo Canada. Its more serious if you are not realizing that youre forgetting, meaning youre forgetting that youre forgetting and that can be a sign of something more serious like dementia.
Types Of Tests For Dementia
The first type of tests are called mental status scales.
These are short bedside tests administered by the doctor that assess memory and other cognitive domains.
They provide a score, which is used to distinguish people with normal vs. impaired cognition and even screen for mild cognitive impairment .
Examples of the most widely used include the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and the Mini-Mental State Examination .
These are screening tests, meaning they are not diagnostic of any particular dementia or diagnosis, but when abnormal definitely can hint that cognition is impaired.
Moreover, these tests can be repeated over time to track the progression of the disease as well.
These tests assess memory, language, executive function, visuospatial skills, and attention/concentration.
The MMSE is scored on a 30 point scale. Specific items include orientation , memory , attention/concentration , language , and visuospatial function . A score of < 23 is abnormal and indicates cognitive impairment.
Note: you can find only MMSE test here.
The MOCA is also scored on a 30 point scale.
It assesses delayed word recall/memory , visuospatial function , language , attention/concentration , and orientation . A score of < 25 is abnormal and indicates significant cognitive impairment.
Note: you can also access MOCA test online.
Another similar test is the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination which is scored similarly.
Alternative shorter tests
Read Also: Bob Knight Health Condition
No Easy Solutions But Improvement Is Usually Possible
As many of you know, behavior problems are difficult in dementia in large part because there is usually no easy way to fix them.
Many probably too many older adults with Alzheimers and other dementias are being medicated for their behavior problems.
If your family is struggling with behavior problems, I know that reading this article will not quickly solve them.
But I hope this information will enable you to make more informed decisions. This way youll help ensure that any medications are used thoughtfully, in the lowest doses necessary, and in combination with non-drug dementia behavior management approaches.
To learn about non-drug management approaches, I recommend this article: 7 Steps to Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors
And if you are looking for a memory care facility, try to find out how many of their residents are being medicated for behavior. For people with Alzheimers and other dementias, its best to be cared for by people who dont turn first to chemical restraints such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.
Top 27 Natural Home Remedies For Dementia Patients
Adults should drink 2-3 liters of water every day. Water helps to balance body heat and eliminate toxins from metabolism and industrial life. Your brain will grow stronger naturally. Water cleanses the skin, filters the kidney, and stimulates your appetite, so it energizes you and helps you to be healthier and more alert. This is actually what patients with dementia need.
Drinking plenty of water also helps you avoid unhealthy drinks like soda and high calorie fruit juices. The body only recognizes these unhealthy drinks, and then you will also require more calories. If you want more flavor, you can squeeze a few drops of lemon or pure fruit juice into the water to drink. However, be sure to use foods rich in calcium such as cauliflower to help keep your bones healthy. This is very necessary, especially as your age grows. Always carry a bottle of water. You will be surprised how easy it is to drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day. Drinking water is also much cheaper than having to buy other drinks when you feel thirsty, and this is better for the environment.
The effect of this connection leads to improved cognitive abilities, resulting in improved memory after drinking green tea. Scientists have also shown that green tea is good for the brain. They found beneficial effects of green tea with cognitive function. However, active ingredients that increase cognitive ability of green tea have not been found.
3. Diet Changes
Foods to eat:
Foods to avoid:
Referral To A Dementia Specialist
Dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially if your symptoms are mild.
If the GP has been able to rule out other causes for your symptoms, they’ll refer you to a healthcare professional who specialises in diagnosing dementia, such as:
- a psychiatrist with experience of treating dementia
- a doctor specialising in elderly care
- a doctor specialising in the brain and nervous system
The specialist may work in a memory clinic with other professionals who are experts in diagnosing, caring for, and advising people with dementia, and their families.
Multidisciplinary Care Across Specialty Lines
In addition to affecting thinking abilities, dementia and related disorders often are associated with other symptoms. This means that multidisciplinary, collaborative care is essential not only for proper diagnosis, but also for developing a comprehensive treatment plan individually tailored for you. We partner with specialists from Neuropsychology, the Movement Disorders Program, Nuclear Medicine, Neuroradiology and the Sleep Disorders Center, plus Geriatrics and Geriatric Psychiatry. We are housed in the Turner Geriatrics Center, which is the first facility in the U.S. specifically designed for geriatrics research and clinical programs. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Center as one of the top geriatric programs in the country.
You May Like: How Fast Does Alzheimer’s Progress
Practical Tips On Medications To Manage Difficult Behaviors In Dementia
You may be now wondering just how doctors are supposed to manage medications for difficult dementia behaviors.
Here are the key points that I usually share with families:
- Before resorting to medication: its essential to try to identify what is triggering/worsening the behavior, and its important to try non-drug approaches, including exercise.
- Be sure to consider treating possible pain or constipation, as these are easily overlooked in people with dementia. Geriatricians often try scheduling acetaminophen 2-3 times daily, since people with dementia may not be able to articulate their pain. We also titrate laxatives to aim for a soft bowel movement every 1-2 days.
- No type of medication has been clinically shown to improve behavior for most people with dementia. If you try medication for this purpose, you should be prepared to do some trial-and-error, and its essential to carefully monitor how well the medication is working and what side-effects may be happening.
- Antipsychotics and benzodiazepines work fairly quickly, but most of the time they are working through sedation and chemical restraint. They tend to cloud thinking further. It is important to use the lowest possible dose of these medications.
- Antidepressants take a while to work, but are generally well-tolerated. Geriatricians often try escitalopram or citalopram in people with dementia.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
Don’t Miss: Alzheimer Vs Dementia Vs Senility
What Kind Of Doctor Tests For Dementia
A primary care doctor can perform a physical exam and find out more about your symptoms to determine what may be the cause. They will likely refer you to one or several specialists that can perform specific tests to diagnose dementia. Specialists may include neurologists, who specialize in the brain and nervous system psychiatrists or psychologists, who specialize in mental health, mental functions, and memory or geriatricians, who specialize in healthcare for older adults.
What Are Cholinesterase Inhibitors
If your loved one has Alzheimerâs disease that isnât too severe yet, their doctor might prescribe them a cholinesterase inhibitor. If they have another type of dementia, their doctor may consider it, too.
What they do: Scientists think these help prevent a âmessenger chemicalâ in our brains called acetylcholine from breaking down. Acetylcholine is important in learning, memory, and mood. Cholinesterase inhibitors also appear to delay the worsening of Alzheimerâs symptoms.
These medicines include:
What to expect: Most people with Alzheimerâs who take one of these medications get some benefit from it, including less anxiety, improved motivation, and better concentration and memory. And some are able to continue with their regular activities.
But the improvements donât seem to last long — about 6 to 12 months. They mainly delay the worsening of the disease for a period of time.
All three medicines work similarly, but one might work better for your loved one than it does for someone else.
Side effects: Most people donât have side effects when they take cholinesterase inhibitors, but some do have:
Also Check: Senility Vs Dementia
If You Want To Change Doctors
You might decide to change primary care doctors for many reasons. They may not be skilled in the care of people with dementia, or their office might not be convenient. If your loved one moves to a nursing home, you may choose to have them see the doctor there.
If you decide to change, have a new primary care doctor lined up before you leave the current one. Some doctors donât take new patients or there may be a wait list. If possible, schedule a last visit with the current doctor to get copies of medical records, test results, and a current list of medications.
It might be important for the doctor to know why you want to leave. If you donât want to talk about it in person, write them a letter or talk to a nurse on staff.
Seeking Online Medical Second Opinion
A neurologist is the best person to diagnose the problem of dementia in individuals. Even after you ask a neurologist online about dementia and its related risks and various other aspects, you might still have many unanswered questions in your mind. There might be doubts regarding things to which you might not get proper answers. In such a situation, the best thing to do is to seek online medical second opinion. Look out for a good neurologist online from the various portals where the best of doctors from various fields are available for consultation. You can book an appointment with the doctor and send him all the reports and investigation test results and ask for a consultation or second opinion. You can also clear all your doubts.
It has been seen in many cases that initially the treatment that was being done for dementia was not proper. After the second opinion was taken, the patient received the right kind of treatment for the problem. It might be expensive, true, but taking second opinion for complicated cases is always a good option. Best neurology doctors are available in the various online portals, which offer consultation services to patients.
Don’t Miss: Quality Of Life Alzheimer’s Disease
Learn About Neurology Specialists
Though many primary care physicians are able to make an initial diagnosis of dementia and provide basic care for memory-impairing diseases, working with a specialist in brain disorders and taking advantage of the physicians more extensive experience is a necessity for more thorough treatment. According to Dr. Piero G. Antuono, Silverado Brookfield Medical Director, those seeking the most thorough treatment and care of dementia are best served by consulting doctors with formal training and experience in geriatrics, neurology or psychiatry.
What Is Best Residential Care For An Elderly Person With Vascular Dementia And Difficulty Walking
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
Don’t Miss: Smelling Farts Helps Prevent Cancer
Are Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease The Same Thing
Although they are often used interchangeably, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. According to the World Health Organization saying it contributes to 60-70% of dementia cases. Many people use the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” interchangeably, but in reality Alzheimers is the cause and dementia is the effect.
Stroke, head injuries and even Parkinsons disease are also causes of dementia.
Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Awareness Color