I have a problem with the number 15. That is, if I'm counting in my head, I hesitate when I get to 14, and question what the next number should be. However, I noticed that I do not have a problem if I verbalize the numbers; all the numbers flow the same. That kind of makes sense because I'm bringing in the auditory cortex to help resolve the next number. Why am I having this issue with just the number 15? I doubt there's a "number fifteen neuron." My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease somewhere between the ages of 82 to 85. Could my “missing 15” be the start of this brain disease? I'll be 65 on my next birthday. [ 05/22/13 ]
This is a truly baffling question, for which I can find no answer. I have the same experience with recalling the name of a specific actor, so I hope for your sake and mine that this temporary and circumscribed amnesia is a fluke rather than a warning of more serious illness! In all seriousness, I do not think it likely that this experience is a harbinger of cognitive decline.
I was 60 years old in March of 2013. I have numerous osteoarthritic joints and suffer greatly with movement. An MRI has found brain atrophy and I do have short-term memory loss; however, I am still quite functional. I do worry about what lies ahead. The doctor said that I do not have Alzheimer’s, but he did put me on Aricept and phosphatidylcholine powder. Will this help to prevent the disease? Am I at high risk to develop the disease in the future? If I do not have the disease, then why take the medications? [ 05/22/13 ]
First, it’s important to clarify that neither donepezil (Aricept) nor any other currently available medication has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, donepezil is not indicated for the treatment of cognitive impairment that falls below the level of dementia. It’s not clear from the limited information that I have as to why you were prescribed phosphatidylcholine and donepezil, though your doctor may have a good reason, and it would be good for you to discuss this further with him or her. The combination of brain atrophy on MRI and short-term memory loss is indeed worrisome, so if your doctor does not have specialized experience in treating memory disorders, this would be a good time for you to seek evaluation from someone expert in this area.
My mother has been on and off Namenda at least twice during the last year. She has been off the medication for about two months most recently. During this time, she has become more and more anxious and combative. These symptoms seem to go away when she is put back on the medication. Will Namenda eventually lose its effectiveness? [ 05/22/13 ]
Memantine (Namenda) is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed to benefit cognitive and behavioral symptoms even at a late stage of the illness. Some evidence supports using this drug as a useful treatment for agitation such as you describe. There may come a time when it loses effectiveness, or when the progression of cognitive and behavioral symptoms of dementia alter your mother’s behavior despite whatever benefit memantine continues to provide. Fortunately, there are other behavioral and medication approaches to treating these symptoms.
My mom is 90 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease, and often asks irrelevant questions. A brain scan showed that the blood flow to the brain is also becoming reduced, but other medical tests were normal. At this stage, I am scared that if medications are given to my mom that it might cause her to become bedridden or incontinent. I appreciate your input. [ 05/22/13 ]
You are probably aware that the only way to be certain of Alzheimer’s disease as a diagnosis is to sample tissue from the affected person’s brain and examine it microscopically. The PET scan, which uses radioactively-labeled tracer molecules to reveal the brain’s secrets, provides strongly suggestive evidence, however. If the scan that showed reduced blood flow was an FDG PET scan, which identifies areas of low metabolism in the brain, then the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is likely. If it was an arteriogram, looking at blood flow in the neck and head, the diagnosis is as well-established.
If your mom has a progressive dementia, then it is possible she will become bedridden or incontinent at some point. Some medications make people sleepy or more confused and could also have those effects, and the cholinesterase inhibitors do sometimes cause diarrhea at the beginning of treatment; however, the “cognitive enhancers” such as donepezil or memantine are not generally a cause of incontinence or increased time in bed.
It would be helpful for you talk with your mom’s doctors about their medication suggestions and your concerns.
Will knee replacement surgery using an epidural make my dad's early-onset Alzheimer's disease worse? [ 05/22/13 ]
Although there has been controversy about the possibility that general anesthesia might worsen cognitive functioning in a person with Alzheimer’s disease, there is no evidence of epidural anesthesia producing such an effect
My dad recently had surgery on his knee, and had to go to my sister’s home to get care because my mother has Alzheimer's disease. My mom also needs care, but since she hasn’t been in her home in two weeks she has gotten worse; there has been a large decline in her memory. Is this change normal? If she goes back to her normal surroundings will she improve? [ 05/22/13 ]
Along with the other changes that Alzheimer’s disease brings, one very important one is diminished “resilience.” Normal cognitive functioning would allow your mother to cope with the temporary change in residence. Alzheimer’s disease, however, makes even small changes in surroundings into a more difficult and challenging adjustment. In addition, of course, she is experiencing a change in her husband’s health, mobility, and availability. It is likely that she’ll improve once back in her usual surroundings, but sometimes a decline that begins in this way does not fully reverse. You may be able to help her by explaining repeatedly, to the extent she understands, that her husband is making progress in his recovery and that she will soon be back home.
My mom was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease seven years ago, but many family and friends saw the signs about 15 years ago. Now mom has had three different cancers and brain surgery too. Is it possible that the surgeries or treatments could have contributed to her getting Alzheimer’s? [ 05/03/13 ]
This is so unfortunate. Your question is one that caregiving families, clinicians and scientists are continuing to ask and investigate. In an older adult, cancer surgery should not cause dementia, but sometimes surgical complications such as lack of oxygen during anesthesia can increase the likelihood of later cognitive problems. If your mom has had chemotherapy, cognitive problems may be more likely. Evaluation by a dementia expert will be necessary if you wish to understand the relationships among her difficult disorders.
How long should a patient with Alzheimer's disease continue taking galantamine and Namenda? Is there any time limitation for taking these medications? My father has taken them for more than two years. Thank you for your advice. [ 05/03/13 ]
Although the therapeutic effects of galantamine and memantine (Namenda) may be modest for many patients, other patients may derive a longer and/or greater degree of benefit. The benefits may extend beyond helping memory and other cognitive functions. For some patients, the benefits include delayed deterioration of “activities of daily living,” delayed emergence of “non-cognitive behavioral symptoms,” and diminished “caregiver burden” (less time per day needed for caretaking). When addressing this concern with families, I ask them what they think the patient’s wishes would be at this stage of illness if he or she were able to make the decision. For some people, withdrawal of supportive treatment might be the appropriate choice. But keep in mind that patients taken off these medications even in a late stage might then deteriorate more quickly.