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.
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.
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.
My mother was 35 years old when I was born, and now I am 57. My mother's mom, my mom, and her brother have all had Alzheimer’s disease. Now my oldest sister, who is 74, has the disease as well. Is it still just a wait and see disease or are there tests to determine if someone is in the very early stages? Maybe I could be studied so that my kids do not have to experience the very sad demise that my family members have experienced. Thank you for your input. [ 06/21/12 ]
A recent statement from the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institute on Aging suggested that we should think of Alzheimer's disease as having an early stage in which the brain is increasingly affected but no cognitive changes are yet noticeable. It is likely that neuroimaging and other biomarker tests will soon help us identify people in this stage, but that very early detection is not yet a part of standard assessment.
Alzheimer's disease is a complex disorder, for which there is currently no known prevention or cure. Some research has generated hope that one day it might be possible to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, delay its symptoms, or even prevent it from occurring at all. Although there is preliminary data to support the benefit of some interventions, such as physical activity and cardiovascular risk reduction, nothing at this time has definitively been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. You and your treating clinicians may want to keep an eye out for clinical trials recruiting families such as yours for early screening and intervention.
Is autism related to Alzheimer's disease? [ 05/16/12 ]
Although some observers have noted shared behavioral characteristics between Alzheimer's disease and autism and postulated that there might be a connection, the evidence for this does not appear to have been forthcoming.
What does empirical research suggest the prognosis is for a person with Alzheimer’s disease when he or she lives at home versus an assisted living or nursing facility? [ 04/27/12 ]
Not every home environment is suitable or safe for providing care to persons with dementia, and many long-term care facilities provide attentive service; nonetheless, one often hears of Alzheimer's disease patients who have survived for years in a home environment and one might wonder how much the loving care at home contributed to the extended survival. One study that looks empirically at this question was reported by McClendon and colleagues in the Journal of Gerontology, Behavior, Psychology, and Social Sciences in 2006. This study followed 258 persons with Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers, and found evidence supporting the idea that delayed institutionalization was associated with prolonged survival. The decision for any specific family to seek institutional care, of course, depends on many factors associated with their personal circumstances.