Dementia

Dementia/Memory Loss (“www.alz.org“)
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.
Typical age-related memory loss and other changes compared to Alzheimer’s

Signs of Alzheimer’s – Typical age-related changes

  • Poor judgment and decision making -Making a bad decision once in a while
  • Inability to manage a budget – Missing a monthly payment
  • Losing track of the date or the season- Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
  • Difficulty having a conversation -Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them – Losing things from time to time

10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or Solving Problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Challenges in mood and personality

Diagnosis

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires careful medical evaluation, including:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Mental status testing
  • A physical and neurological exam
  • Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms

Treatment

As Alzheimer’s progresses, brain cells die and connections among cells are lost, causing cognitive symptoms to worsen. While current medications cannot stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may help lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting certain chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells. Doctors sometimes prescribe both types of medications together. Some doctors also prescribe high doses of vitamin E for cognitive changes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Types of Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of medications — cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne, Cognex) and memantine (Namenda) — to treat the cognitive symptoms (memory loss, confusion, and problems with thinking and reasoning) of Alzheimer’s disease.

References

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