The New Problematic Diagnosing Of Dementia Symptoms

February 7, 2012

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects 1 in 8 adults over the age of 65, and despite the high prevalence and thousands of ongoing studies, we still don’t know the exact cause, and we’re far from having any tools to stop or reverse the disease.

The best advice is to support over-all wellness: eat a healthy, brain supporting diet, exercise, focus on activities that focus and sharpen the mind. But even those aren’t 100% proven.

So many are concerned about a new blur between diagnosing Alzheimer’s, and another disease with dementia symptoms overlapping the early stages of Alzheimer’s called mild cognitive impairment.

Since dementia symptoms overlap, it will likely be up to doctor’s to choose a diagnosis, and except in cases of family history or genetic markers (which affect less than 10% of Alzheimer’s cases) some think they’ll be more likely to go with the less stigmatized diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. Of course, there are those who don’t believe in mild cognitive impairment—that doctors just need to dig deeper, and a cause, which mostly includes Alzheimer’s, will be found for any diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment.

This creates the fear that those exhibiting early dementia symptoms—memory loss, a developing inability to perform regular tasks, a change in personality—may not get the chance to adequately prepare for the debilitating disease that’s likely to overtake them.

And so, a warning: if a member of your family is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, push the doctor to go deeper. Medications, thyroid problems, brain injury (as from stroke) or Alzheimer’s are all likely causes, and some of those causes can be dealt with. Watch for further dementia symptoms, and make plans for care-giving.

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