1. Is dementia the same as Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: the majority of individuals diagnosed with “dementia” have Alzheimer’s Disease”. The exact number varies with different studies but an acceptable number is 80 percent. Those other 20 percent of cases of “dementia” may have strokes (vascular dementia, mixed dementia (combination of Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia) and other less common causes of dementia.
2. What are the less common causes of dementia
Answer: other than vascular dementia and mixed dementia other causes include Lewy Body Dementia, alcohol related dementia, head trauma related dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, and depression related dementia (called pseudo-dementia).
3. Are there any “really good” treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?
Answer. “Really good” has many definitions. If by that is asked, can the disease be stopped, the answer is “no”. If the question is can Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms be helped, the answer is yes. Using any of the three FDA approved medications for Alzheimer’s Disease would be a reasonable starting point for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease.
4. Can the disease be reversed or stopped?
Answer: No, not at this time, however, at the Memory Enhancement Center of America, we are studying newer medications to slow the downhill course of all patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. These are known as research clinical trials.
5. Can I participate in a clinical research trial for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: There are strict guidelines known as inclusion and exclusion criteria that must be satisfied in order for anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease to participate in these state of the art studies.
6. Is there a cost to me or my insurance to participate in Alzheimer’s Disease studies?
Answer: No, not at anytime during your participation in a clinical research trial.
7. Is Alzheimer’s Disease hereditary?
Answer: We are learning more and more about the genetics of the disease and it appears that there is a genetic component to Alzheimer’s Disease in some families and in many other Alzheimer’s Disease individuals no genetic link has yet to be found.
8. Why do doctors often neglect to test older people’s memory in their office?
Answer: There is no reimbursement generally for the testing of memory in older adults and many physicians think of memory loss in older age as just a “normal part of aging”.
9. If forgetfulness is a normal part of aging how do you know if your memory loss is just simple aging or something more serious?
Answer: We are now learning that any change in your short term memory function after age 50 may indicate the very very early signs of what we refer to as “Mild Cognitive Impairment”, or MCI, which by definition has no limitation in ones ability to function safely and independently in society. However such people must be carefully monitored for progression to Alzheimer’s Disease over a five year period. Statistically, it has been found that almost 40 percent of MCI subjects progress to Alzheimer’s Disease in a five year or greater period.
10. Can I be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease before I become forgetful?
Answer: The Memory Enhancement Center of America in Long Branch is working on a very new brain scan that might, repeat might be able to detect deposits of dangerous proteins, called “amyloid” which left untreated will likely lead to the clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is hope that this might become an important scanning tool to find the “amyloid” early and start treatments to slow further deposits in the brain.
Ask Dr. Ross
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