I believe the easy answer to my question today is that there is no simple, easy, and cheap way to detect dementia and related cognitive disorders. It would be great if there were a blood test that could diagnose dementia.
Cognitive and neuropsychological testing is expensive and time-consuming – and you must have a reason to conduct these tests. Brain scans and other laboratory tests are not inexpensive. Psychiatric evaluations can be used, but there must be symptoms to demand this type of test.
I think that most of us can independently diagnose a person with some memory problem. The onset of a dementia type of disease is not difficult. It starts out forgetting things, names, places, etc. However, the crux of the difficulty in diagnosing dementia is determining the specific form of dementia. There are overlaps in several of the cognitive disorders.
Underdiagnosed in the United States
https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/dementia-alzheimers-seniors-undiagnosed/2021/06/28/id/1026665/. An article I read today stated that over 90% of those over the age of 65 have some form of cognitive impairment but do not have a formal diagnosis of dementia. Is that revealing? Yes, I believe it is.
We recognize memory problems, especially those involving recent memory, as a prelude to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Confusion, lack of focus, withdrawal, sometimes a bit of depression, not remembering the right word in conversation, difficulty planning, and organizing, and many more are things most of us have seen in older adults with some form of dementia.
Part of the problem is getting people to their doctors. Over 90% of Americans agree that an annual health physical is essential. Still, just a bit over half of them make it to the doctor’s office annually, according to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Remembering to tell the doctor that you cannot remember things while at that physical might also be a problem. Some of us do not like to bring up details to our doctors. Why? I do not know.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/alzheimers-and-dementia-whats-the-difference. Dementia is not a disease but a category of brain disorders. It is not as simple as forgetting a name or where you left the keys. Dementia must have multiple components to have a classification as a cognitive disorder. For example, suppose a person had two or more symptoms of memory issues, speech, focus, concentration, reasoning, judgment, and even visual perception. In that case, it might be grounds to put that person in the category of dementia. But what category?
There is vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (Frank Bonner played the role of Herb Tarlek in the television series WKRP in Cincinnati, died recently of dementia with Lewy bodies), mixed dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Huntington’s disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common and affects over half the people with dementia. Symptoms are similar to dementia mentioned above – memory issues, concentration difficulty, impaired judgment and decision-making, confusion, and a few more. However, Alzheimer’s disease also has mood and personality changes, aggression, mistrust, and depression.
Treatment for Dementia
https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/treatments. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Some treatments work well when started in the early stages of the disease. Cholinesterase and glutamate inhibitors have good track records. Some doctors recommend sleep medications, antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs.
Sometimes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be a deficiency in vitamin B12. Doctors can give a B12 shot to eliminate that possibility. Blood sugar control, reduction in alcohol, and thyroid medications sometimes offer temporary relief.
My brother-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease. He could not tell you which year it was. A couple of months on phosphatidylserine, a chemical our bodies make daily, brought him out of the early onset of Alzheimer’s to the degree that he could tell you what he had for breakfast, what was on television last night and what is on TV tonight.
As our bodies age, we make less of many things. One of those things is a group of phospholipids, of which phosphatidylserine is one. I read an article last week about phosphatidylinositol and Alzheimer’s disease https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(98)00073-0/abstract that is promising.
Type III Diabetes – https://www.healthline.com/health/type-3-diabetes – is being described as a new name for Alzheimer’s disease. The theory is that a type of insulin resistance and insulin-like growth factor dysfunction can occur in the brain and lead to Alzheimer’s.
Yes, many Americans are not diagnosed with any form of dementia in the early stages. Some of us figure that getting older means we begin losing a bit of our mind – ‘can’t remember stuff’ syndrome! Regardless, dementia is real, and treated early can allow a quality of life longer.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com