Memory Disorders, Neurodegenerative Disorders

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND OTHER DEMENTIAS

 

Neurodegenerative Disorders (NDDs) such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are often referred to as “memory disorders,” although memory change is not the only symptom of these conditions. Other cognitive processes, such as language, decision making, attention, and visual perception can be affected as well.

Terminology

dementia – cognitive decline that affects the ability to perform previously learned tasks.
mild cognitive impairment – a cognitive change but with no decline in daily function.

In both dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment, individuals and others around them may notice subtle changes.

The Difference Between Dementia and Normal Aging

Normal cognitive decline due to healthy aging is sometimes mistaken for dementia, causing concern in individuals and their loved ones. Fortunately, the differences between the two are easy to recognize. Memory changes due to normal aging are temporary, and details are recalled later. On the other hand, with dementia, an individual may forget that a conversation ever occurred, or they may suddenly have difficulty performing daily tasks such as managing finances.

Typical signs of normal aging

  • Slower thought processes
  • Taking longer to learn something new
  • Decreased ability to multitask
  • Occasional difficulty remembering a word or name
  • Occasional misplacement of items such as glasses or keys
  • Mild memory changes, but not complete forgetting

..

Normal aging with risk factors

For people with certain risk factors, the chances of experiencing dementia increase with age. These factors may include:

  • Family history of Alzheimer’s disease
  • History of concussion/TBI
  • Stroke
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Poor diet
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Depression
  • Poor fitness

Early assessment allows individuals with risk factors to take preventative measures and develop a personalized plan for maintaining brain health.

Diagnosis

Kaizen specialists evaluate patients based on detailed histories, state-of-the-art assessment, and a comprehensive neurological exam to determine the most accurate diagnosis.

A neuropsychiatrist or neurologist must have specialized training to differentiate between the changes in memory and cognition that occur with normal aging and those that indicate a memory disorder. Without advanced training, a physician may over- or underdiagnose Alzheimer’s disease or may not recognize the subtleties of other dementias.

A clear diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease allows Kaizen’s multidisciplinary team of experts to create a customized treatment plan that fits the goals and needs of each patient. Treatment may include:

  • Pharmaceuticals to boost neurotransmitters associated with memory loss
  • Sleep optimization and management
  • Mood/behavior management
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for cognition and mood
  • Ongoing education and support for patients and their families

How Do I Know if a Loved One Has Dementia?

The following symptoms are reasons to contact a specialist in neuropsychiatry or neurology with advanced training in neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Forgetting that a recent conversation occurred
  • Repetitive questioning
  • Getting lost while walking or driving in familiar places
  • Difficulty with planning and organization
  • Behavioral changes with lack of empathy towards others
  • Personality changes
  • Severe loss of interest or enthusiasm about things one previously enjoyed
  • New addictions/dietary changes

Types of Dementia Treated at Kaizen Brain Center

  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (50%-60% of all dementias)
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration/Frontolobar dementia
  • Primary Progressive Aphasia
  • Posterior Cortical Atrophy
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Vascular cognitive impairment/Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Parkinson’s disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Corticobasal syndrome
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Early Prevention and Treatment

Evidence shows that the molecular process of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias starts at least 15-20 years before the onset of memory complaints. Kaizen providers use evidence-based strategies to help prevent, diagnose, or treat Alzheimer’s disease at very early stages to help change the illness trajectory.

> THE SCIENCE: MORE ABOUT NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES

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