I was wondering if there was any research into geographic clusters of Alzheimer’s disease. My late mother was diagnosed with this brain disorder and she had mentioned two other people in her apartment building also had the disease. [ 09/20/12 ]
If your mother's apartment building houses many elderly residents, age may be a more important factor than location; however, there have been attempts to study geographical clustering of AD in order to understand the causes of this brain disease more fully. Many researchers have wondered whether location determines exposure to a risk factor in the environment. Other experts have wondered if the geographic clustering may represent to some degree variations in physicians' diagnostic procedures, reporting practices, and medical opinions. So far, though, there appears to be no universal explanation for the observed clustering that raises questions such as yours.
My mom is 71 years old and has been diagnosed with non-Alzheimer’s dementia three months ago. What exactly does this mean? Her mental capacity seems to be fine. Her only symptom is "halted speech." Our family feels that her symptoms more resemble a stroke. Should we seek a second opinion? What should we expect in the days to come? She is in good health and continues to live a normal life, except she has somewhat distanced herself because she is not able to speak. [ 09/18/12 ]
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are many other conditions that interfere with memory, reasoning, language, visual and spatial orientation, and other cognitive abilities. All the other causes, grouped together, are non-Alzheimer's dementia. Many of the patients with non-Alzheimer's dementia have vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, or one of the frontotemporal dementias. If your mother's mental capacity is indeed “fine” and halted speech is her only symptom, a vascular cause may be the explanation for her symptom. It would certainly be reasonable to seek another opinion, this time from a neurologist with expertise in strokes.
What are the external changes that one might see in a person with memory loss, not yet diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? In an 80-year-old person, would it be typical to see indentations on the temple areas on both sides of the face? [ 09/18/12 ]
The temporal areas of the skull received their name because this is one area of the body that shows the effects of time's passage, though usually with graying and not typically with indentation. Perhaps indentations are developing because of wasting of the temporalis muscles. This can occur in a person whose health status is declining and who suffers from nutritional deficiency or increased nutritional needs that are not being fully met. Such a development is not a normal feature of Alzheimer's disease and should lead to a medical examination to look for diseases associated with muscle wasting.
When the doctor says a patient has progressed rapidly to end-stage Alzheimer's disease, is there still any benefit to the patient taking Namenda and/or Aricept? [ 09/18/12 ]
The best time, if there is one, for discontinuing cognitive enhancing medications remains arguable and uncertain. Some research has found the benefits of these medications to be modest, but other studies suggest that even late in the course of Alzheimer's disease they may add value to treatment by delaying or reducing changes in behavior that would be difficult to manage.
My 48-year-old brother died very recently and had previously expressed concern of having early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There is a family history of both early- and late-onset forms of this brain disease in my family. An autopsy was performed on my brother and toxicology reports are still pending, but in our grief we neglected to request testing for Alzheimer's. Can tissue or blood samples taken during autopsy be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease? It has been two weeks since his death. Thank you for any information that you can provide. [ 09/18/12 ]
At 48, your brother was pretty young even for early-onset of Alzheimer's disease, so the autopsy results are understandably of interest. You may want to check whether brain tissue was saved, and whether it was properly prepared in order to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. It is possible that the diagnosis can be suggested by examination of the brain tissue, though the presence of clinical symptoms remains a necessity.
An MRI found 'white spots' on my brain, and I was diagnosed as having a cerebral-cardiac risk. Could this in any way be a precursor of Alzheimer's disease? [ 09/18/12 ]
“White spots” most likely represent changes in the small blood vessels that are visible on certain types of MRI images. Sometimes these occur as a normal part of aging. In other cases, they represent changes associated with disease. They are found in some types of vascular cognitive impairment but are not a diagnostic feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Nevertheless, some patients with AD have white spots on their MRIs because many cases that are called AD should more accurately be considered cases of “mixed dementia” in which symptoms of AD are combined with symptoms of vascular cognitive impairment.
My great-grandma suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. My grandma (her daughter) is showing the early signs of this condition too. I am worried that my mum and I will suffer from Alzheimer’s at some stage in our life. My mum did an Alzheimer’s test and the results said that she was unlikely to get it. I know my great-grandma married a cousin and there can be genetic health risks associated with that. I just wondered whether there is anything to suggest that this is a hereditary disease or is a disease that can result when blood relatives marry. [ 07/25/12 ]
Only a small percentage of Alzheimer's disease (AD) cases are considered strongly heritable, but research shows that there is also a limited increase in the likelihood of AD in people who have multiple affected relatives. This increase in risk is small, however.
The marriage of blood relatives reduces the opportunity to bring new and different genes into a family, and it slightly increases the likelihood that they might share a disease gene. Although your family's lineage does not seem especially risky, you may want to consult a genetic counselor, who can give you a more detailed risk assessment, if you have concerns about disease inheritance.
My 65-year-old husband has progressed beyond mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease and he is not able to be alone anymore, so I am his full-time care partner. For several months now he gets debilitating diarrhea every time he eats (usually within one hour of eating). It is difficult for him to explain how he is feeling, but he does not appear symptomatic beyond the diarrhea. My question is whether this is related to his Alzheimer’s condition? I am sure his medication isn’t causing this as he has been taking it for quite some time. [ 07/25/12 ]
Although his medications may not be relevant, it's worth considering whether they are playing a role. The cholinesterase inhibitors are known for causing diarrhea. Your husband's primary care physician will also want to check him for other causes of diarrhea including impaction, infection (including parasites), and nerve problems that can be associated with diabetes.