Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

DCND has nationally recognized doctors in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Dementia is memory loss that interferes with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common form. As you age, the risk for developing dementia goes up. It starts slow and gets worse over time. There is currently no cure but there are many studies underway searching for one. DCND has been apart of some. Click on the button below for more information about current research studies.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia 

Early signs
  1. The biggest sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s is memory issues that disrupt daily life such as forgetting recently learned information like important dates or asking the same question over.
  2. Having trouble planning or paying monthly bills.
  3. Difficultly completing tasks that are familiar such as a grocery list or driving to the same location.
  4. Confusion about dates, seasons or time.
  5. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  6. Poor judgement with money or cleanliness.
  7. Withdrawing from social situations.
  8. Changes in mood or personality.

More early signs and symptoms here

Diagnosing

There is not a single test that makes a diagnosis for dementia or Alzheimer’s. Your neurologist will use a variety of different factors such as your medical history, physical and mental exams, brain imaging or mental status tests. 

Testing

Mini-mental state exam. An MMSE may be used to help your provider determine your diagnosis. This exam involves a serious of questions designed to test everyday mental skills. Many times the patient is asked to identify common objects and asked again to remember those objects a short time later. 

Computer Tests. DCND also utilizes computer based tests that looks at thinking, learning and memory.

Imaging. Your provider may order brain imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) are most commonly used. These tests are mainly used to rule out other issues that could be causing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s. In some circumstances, a doctor may use brain imaging tools to find out if the individual has high levels of beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Information obtained from the Alzheimer’s Association here.

Treatment

There is unfortunately no cure at the moment for dementia or Alzheimer’s and no way to slow its progression. Our providers can help you manage some of the associated symptoms such as behavior and sleep changes. There are some medications approved for helping with memory loss symptoms and confusion for a limited time. To learn more click here.

Caregivers

Dementia and Alzheimer’s doesn’t just impact the patient, it also impacts those who love and care for that person. Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be challenging and oftentimes involves a team of people. Early on in the diagnosis, the job of a caregiver is support and long-term care planning. As the disease progresses independence, safety and emotions become more important for caregivers to understand and address.

In the middle stage of the disease brain damage makes it difficult to perform routine tasks or express  thoughts. The role of a caregiver in this stage requires flexibility and patience. The responsibility of the caregiver will also increase at this stage. 

During the late stages of the disease, the focus shifts to intensive, round-the-clock care of the patient. The focus of a caregiver at this point is quality of life and dignity.  

There are many resources and support groups available for caregivers at various stages. Please visit the Alzheimer’s Association for more information. 

Genetic tests

While there are several tests that identify certain genes that may increase the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, we do not recommend them. Research in this area is still ongoing and may only indicate the possibility of developing the disease, not an absolute. To learn more about genetic testing click here.

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures from the ALZ Association

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