What To Do If Someone In Your Family Is Diagnosed With Alzheimers
Contact the Alzheimers Association . Find out about resources available to help you and your family. State and county agencies may also be able to help.
Plan for the future. This includes legally designating someone to make health care and financial decisions for the affected person when he or she cant.
Investigate long-term care options. Nursing care is expensive, and finding a good place can take time. Start early.
Take care of physical health. People with dementia who live a healthy lifestyle tend to progress more slowly to the later stages.
Steer away from genetic testing. Even if you have the APOE Alzheimers risk gene, it usually doesnt mean you will develop dementia later in life.
Potential Breakthrough For Prevention And Treatment
Researchers hope that their findings lead to breakthroughs in treatment methods. Senior study author, Dr. Ed Goetzl, says:
My vision of the future is you have your breakfast cereal, and on one side you have a statin for cardiovascular disease and on the other side you have three pills to prevent dementia.
He went on to state that, This study shows that insulin resistance is a major central nervous system metabolic abnormality in Alzheimers disease that contributes to neural cell damage. As insulin resistance is a known condition in type 2 diabetes and is treatable with several classes of existing drugs, these treatments may be useful as part of a multi-agent program for Alzheimers.
The blood test is still in the early stages of development and will require a larger and longer study before it can be used to detect Alzheimers. The lead author of the study and neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, Dimitrios Kapagiannis, says: We will need replication and validation, but Im very optimistic this work will hold.
Do you think the newest blood test is a viable way to prevent Alzheimers disease? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Should I Go To My Gp About My Memory Lapses
If you are aware of your own memory lapses and they do not appear to be getting worse with time, it is very unlikely that you have dementia. The changes in the brain that happen when someone has dementia can make it difficult for that person to think clearly about the impact their own memory issues are having. So if you are worrying that your memory is getting worse, but no one else who knows you is, you probably do not need to go and see your doctor.
There are many factors that can affect your memory that are not related to dementia: a lack of sleep, stress, the menopause, physical ill health, vitamin deficiency or a change in medication can all affect your memory.
There are things you can try which will improve your overall health, which as a result, can help with improving your memory, as well as delaying the onset of dementia.
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Signs Your Parent Needs To Be Tested
Just because your parent might be starting to forget things every now and then doesnât mean Alzheimerâs disease or another type of dementia is the cause. However, itâs important to be on the lookout for changes that arenât a normal part of the aging process. According to the National Institute on Aging and Mayo Clinic, these are early signs of more serious memory problems:
- Repeating questions
- Mixing up wordsâusing the wrong word to identify something
- Taking longer to complete familiar tasks
- Getting lost in familiar area
- Not being able to follow directions
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Confusion about time, people and places
- Neglecting personal hygiene
Your parent should see a doctor if he or she is experiencing these problems. Itâs important for him or her to be tested to see if symptoms are due to Alzheimerâs, another type of dementia or something else entirely. Dementia-like symptoms can be caused by depression, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, medication side effects or excessive alcohol consumptionâall of which can be helped with treatment.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimerâs disease, an early diagnosis will allow your parent to get treatment that can lessen symptoms. Plus, it will give you and your parent more time to discuss what sort of care he or she wants and to make a plan to pay for that care.
Other Scans And Procedures To Diagnose Dementia
Other types of scan, such as a SPECT scan or a PET scan, may be recommended if the result of your MRI or CT scan is uncertain.
However, most people will not need these types of scans.
Both SPECT and PET scans look at how the brain functions, and can pick up abnormalities with the blood flow in the brain.
If a specialist is worried that epilepsy may be causing the dementia symptoms, an EEG may be taken to record the brain’s electrical signals , but this is rare.
Page last reviewed: 3 July 2020 Next review due: 3 July 2023
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Early Dementia Detection Questionnaire
For a fuller look at the possible risk factors, see the table below. It shows a somewhat shortened version of the test developed by Dr. William Shankle and Dr. Daniel Amen. To take the “Shankle-Amen” test, add up the points on your “yes” answers. According to Dr. Shankle,
- If you score 0, 1, or 2: you have a low risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- If you score 3, 4, 5, or 6: you should have an annual screen after age 50.
- If you score over 6: you should have an annual screen after age 40.
Dr. Shankle and his wife, Junko, who is also a memory loss researcher, have created a website which has a Memory Skills Test which you can take if you register with them to help their research.
How The Sage Test For Dementia Works
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The SAGE test has 12 questions that cover all aspects of cognition, including memory, problem solving, and language.
There are 4 different versions of the test. Theyre similar enough, but having multiple versions means that someone could take the test once a year and wouldnt improve their score each year just from the practice of taking it before.
This way, the test is slightly different each time.
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What Are The Benefits Of Early Diagnosis
Early planning and assistanceEarly diagnosis enables a person with dementia and their family to receive help in understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis and to prepare for the future in an appropriate way. This might include making legal and financial arrangements, changes to living arrangements, and finding out about aids and services that will enhance quality of life for people with dementia and their family and friends. Early diagnosis can allow the individual to have an active role in decision making and planning for the future while families can educate themselves about the disease and learn effective ways of interacting with the person with dementia.
Checking concernsChanges in memory and thinking ability can be very worrying. Symptoms of dementia can be caused by several different diseases and conditions, some of which are treatable and reversible, including infections, depression, medication side-effects or nutritional deficiencies. The sooner the cause of dementia symptoms is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Asking a doctor to check any symptoms and to identify the cause of symptoms can bring relief to people and their families.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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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.
Simple Blood Test May Be Able To Diagnose Alzheimers Disease
A simple blood test may soon be able to diagnose patients with two common forms of dementia Alzheimers disease and frontotemporal dementia and tell the two apart.
Researchers at UC San Francisco analyzed the blood test in more than 300 patients and say they hope to see such a test available in doctors offices within five years.
This test could eventually be deployed in a primary care setting for people with memory concerns to identify who should be referred to specialized centers to participate in clinical trials or to be treated with new Alzheimers therapies, once they are approved, said Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, neurologist at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and senior author of the study published in Nature Medicine. Boxer also is affiliated with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.
No blood test currently exists for either condition. Alzheimers diagnoses can only be confirmed by a PET scan of the brain, which can be costly, or an invasive lumbar puncture to test cerebrospinal fluid.
If approved, the new blood test could ease screening and help increase the number of patients eligible for clinical trials, which are essential to the search for drugs to stop or slow dementia. Patients who know whether they have Alzheimers or FTD are also better able to manage their symptoms, which may differ between the two conditions.
Adam Boxer, MD, PhD
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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.
People Might Think You Have Early
James, 47, an IT consultant from southwest London, worries that taking a test could have serious financial implications affecting his ability to obtain insurance or a mortgage.
I think there is a risk that an insurer will ask, Have you ever been tested for dementia? and that negatively affects his cousin, says James, who has a close relative who lives with dementia.
People might think they may have early-onset dementia because they were tested, he adds. Regardless of the outcome, you wont get a loan. The mortgage company will say, Well, you probably wont be working in 15 years, we wont give you a loan.
I am not really against doing this kind of testing. But I think the impact of whats going to happen because you took it is something that people dont think about and they really should.
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What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly
Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.
Common Feelings About Testing
Not everyone who has genetic testing or screening will have the same reaction. People within a family may have very different feelings.
- Some people may worry about what the test result may show, or how they will react to the test result.
- Others may feel relief that they were able to inform themselves. The results of genetic testing may help these people decide what to do next.
- People who are at risk of having a child with a genetic condition may feel anxious or overwhelmed at the thought of passing it onto the next generation.
- Others may be comfortable with the risks but want to learn about their options.
- People undergoing fertility treatments or prenatal testing may feel stress because of the risk of the procedures, the decisions that they may face, the future health of their baby, financial strain, and relationship pressures.
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How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia
There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.
What Have Previous Tests And Treatments Looked Like And Why Have They Been Unsuccessful
Paulson: The cerebrospinal fluid measurements are actually quite good at helping doctors make the diagnosis of Alzheimers versus another dementia, but the ordeal of undergoing a procedure that many patients are not eager to undergo means that cerebrospinal fluid measurements are not routinely used in clinical practice.
PET imaging of amyloid and tau is remarkably powerful, but, in the current absence of insurance coverage, most patients simply cannot afford it. Thus, for now, it remains a research test.
Treatments are another matter altogether. While anti-amyloid therapies continue to be tested, they have not been robustly positive in clinical trials. We dont yet know if that lack of effectiveness is due, perhaps, to giving the treatments too late or due to anti-amyloid treatments simply being insufficient as a therapy for Alzheimers.
A simple and sensitive blood test that could pinpoint the Alzheimers disease process well before any cognitive symptoms would allow us to give any potential disease-slowing therapy anti-amyloid, anti-tau, anti-inflammatory at a very early point in the disease process. Doing so likely will increase our chances of finding an effective therapy.
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At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
Many People Are Simply Unsure If They Should Take A Dna Test To Determine If They Are At Risk Of Developing Alzheimers Disease
The only person who can make the best choice when it comes to taking a home DNA test for Alzheimers is you. For many people, theres a lot of stress, worry, and fear associated with taking a home DNA test specifically to learn about their risk of Alzheimers disease.
For this reason, the Alzheimers Society says that when having a DNA test for Alzheimers, its vital that proper genetic counseling is provided to ensure it is the correct decision for your medical health and well-being.
Still, at home DNA tests are an inexpensive way to calm your fears or encourage you to make more informed lifestyle choices. In fact, many genetic counselors say that theres nothing wrong with taking a home DNA test, so long as you loop your doctor into discussions about why youre taking the test, and what information youre hoping to learn.
In this way, your health care provider can help you interpret the test results and also provide you with resources for improving your health, regardless of what the DNA test results suggest.
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Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
If Youre Considering Utilizing A Dna Test You May Feel A Bit Overwhelmed By All The Options Available To Purchase Online Or To Have Administered Through Your Doctors Office
Heres the difference between a handful of common DNA tests that you may have seen commercials for or encountered online.
Ancestry DNA tests: This kind of DNA test is the kind you may have seen ads for, where it says submitting a DNA sample can help you find out more about your family history. Ancestry DNA tests are becoming more and more popular around the globe, and they often come with additional features such as family tree databases to help you compile your genealogy.
And, if you choose to participate, these DNA tests can also compare your DNA to that of people who have also submitted a test to identify potential relatives, which can work in the benefit of people who are adopted or dont know much of their family. Popular ancestry DNA tests include AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage DNA, though more and more companies are offering this kind of DNA testing as time goes on.
At-Home Medical DNA tests: As more people want to know about their genetics, DNA testing companies have developed a variety of DNA test kits that can clue you on potential personal health risks. One of the biggest draws of these tests is that they can be taken within the privacy of your own home and theyre affordable which means that the information you gain from these tests can help you understand your personal health situation without the expense of a doctor-ordered DNA test.
If youre a woman, you wont have any Y-DNA for a DNA test kit to reveal .
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