Monday, December 27, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, and What is the Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia

Dementia is a symptom, and Alzheimer's disease is the cause of the symptoms...
Alzheimer's Reading Room

What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

In a nutshell, dementia is a symptom, and Alzheimer's disease is the cause of the symptom. When someone is told they have dementia, it means that they have significant memory problems as well as other cognitive difficulties, and that these problems are severe enough to get in the way of daily living.

Go here to read more about the Difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a physical illness that causes radical changes in the brain. As healthy brain tissues degenerate persons suffering from Alzheimer's experience a steady decline in memory and the ability to use their brain to perform tasks.

Go here to read more about Alzheimer's disease.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning, such as concentration, memory, and judgment, which affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

Go here to read more about Dementia.

Dementia and the Eight Types of Dementia

Dementia is a an illness that usually occurs slowly over time, and usually includes a progressive state of deterioration. The earliest signs of dementia are usually memory problems, confusion, and changes in the way a person behaves and communicates.

Go here to read more about the Eight Types of Dementia.

By Topic

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memory Tests to Detect Alzheimer's and Dementia the Old Fashioned Way

In my little world here in Delray Beach, Florida I have learned a harsh lesson -- it is very difficult to diagnose mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and probable Alzheimer's. My first experience was with my own mother......

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I knew something was wrong with my mother. I knew it. When I would mention some of my concerns to family and friends they would usually conclude -- she is getting old. When it first started to really bother me my mother was 86 years old.

Her friends that saw her everyday would tell me she is doing great. Her doctor of six years didn't see a problem.

I did know her behavior was undergoing subtle changes. She talked about money incessantly, she complained about being bored incessantly. She started scrapping her feet on the ground. She said things that lead me to believe she was feeling insecure, maybe fear -- these were very different than what I heard her saying in the past.

After my mother was diagnosed with dementia her friends refused to believe both the diagnosis and me. When she would talk to family and friends that lived far away they would usually say --she sounds great.

She did sound great. She could still drive, go to the store, and play bingo. What they didn't see was how her behavior would often turn erratic. I invited all of them to come live in the front row for a few days -- they passed.

The time came when I decided to come and spend some extended time with my mother and try to find out what was happening. At the time, you could put everything I knew about Alzheimer's and dementia in a thimble.

It took a few months before I finally started to understand the problem. It took four doctors to get to the bottom of the problem. None of the people that were seeing my mother on a daily basis saw a problem.

People in an early stage of dementia are very good at disguising the problem. They can laugh and change the conversation when you ask them questions about memory, or the ability to go here and go there. For me, it was the changes in behavior, the meanness, and the inability to walk more than a block that tipped me off.

If a person suffering from dementia gets lost or starts having problems driving, you will never hear about it. The last thing an elderly person wants to do is lose their independence. One of the biggest symbols of independence is the drivers license. Trying to get that drivers license is like trying to get a steak out of the mouth of a bull dog.

After I had been hear a couple of years, I learned some interesting things about my mothers behavior.

She drove her car over a concrete abutment, through a hedge and hit a tree. She then drove the car around some trees, over a sidewalk, over the lawn, and put the care in her condominium parking space. She didn't tell me, my brother, or my sister.

When I first learned about this her friends were laughing telling the story. They were impressed by the fact that she actually got the car back into her space. They did not see it as an indication that maybe she shouldn't be driving -- or worse.

Her friends, still friends, also forgot to mention that they stopped inviting my mother to their lunch time outings to restaurants because she constantly complained about money. When I asked them years later, when I first learned about this, if she had always done this -- they said no. In other words, her behavior had clearly changed but it had no impact on their view of her health.

If you live far away from your parent and they are over 80, there is a good chance you could end up in the same situation I found myself in six years ago.

Here are few things you can try to spot mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's or dementia at an early stage.

To continue reading -- go here.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 950 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime

I am a baby boomer. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Five years ago, I left my job as the CEO of a small software company to take care of my mother. I am living the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s from the front row.

It is rare to meet baby boomers that are concerned about their own uncertain fate when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. This includes most of my close friends. Fifteen thousand baby boomers are turning 60 each day.

• Every 71 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease.

• Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death (recently surpassing diabetes).

One in every eight adults over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

• One out of every two adults over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Ten million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime.
Alzheimer’s disease is certain brain death. Imagine living in a world where you can recount experiences from 1936, but can’t remember your birthday party five minutes after it ended. Meet my mother. My mother never suffered a major illness. She never had an operation. Five years after her diagnosis she is in very good health. But, her brain is dying. She doesn’t know it.

I started the Alzheimer’s Reading Room to keep track of the thousands of articles and many books I was reading. I soon realized I could help the ten million Alzheimer’s Caregivers worldwide by personalizing this information on my blog. Later on, I decided to start writing about our successes in fighting the disease, our decisions on treatments, our new life style, where to look for help, and news about the search for a cure. I stick to information I believe is useful and helpful. There is an enormous amount of new information each day; it’s difficult to identify the best and most useful information. This is my job.

I now know there are many things baby boomers can do to lower the odds of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. I do all of these things for myself each day. There are things you can do to stave off the disease. You need to start doing them now. You cannot wait. With this in mind, I am broadening my mission on the blog to include information to help baby boomers understand and take action against Alzheimer’s

Here are few things baby boomers should be doing right now:

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a cause of cognitive decline. Hypertension causes build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain. This is a complication frequently associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Take action to get your blood pressure down now.

High cholesterol levels in your 40s may raise the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease decades later. Failure to deal with this condition effectively could raise the odds of contracting Alzheimer’s disease by fifty percent. Get your cholesterol checked often and get it down.

B12. A recent study found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to experience brain volume loss. A simple blood test is all that is needed to check the level of B12 in your system. You should start eating foods rich in B12 and consider getting B12 shots to raise the amount of B12 in your system.

Big Belly. Having a large belly in middle age nearly triples the risk of developing dementia.

Cocoa flavanols. A recent study at Harvard found that those who regularly drank a cocoa flavanol-rich beverage had an eight percent increase in brain blood flow after one week, and 10 percent increase after two weeks. I highly recommend incorporating this into your diet.

Exercise. A new study just released shows that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia and can help slow progression of Alzheimer's disease.

In the days ahead, I will be writing more about ways to combat Alzheimer’s disease. If you know someone currently caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease please tell them about the blog. You can subscribe to the blog via email or reader by taking the appropriate action on the blog.

They are predicting that ten million baby boomers will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. By spreading the word and taking action we can lower the number. Let’s get together on this.

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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Friday, September 5, 2008

A Wonderful Moment in Time--Mom Dances for the First Time in Years

Wonderful people.

I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom. Moments like this help keep me energized and focused.

My name is Bob and I am the sole caregiver for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

One of the biggest problems I face as a caregiver is keeping my mother socialized. If it was up to her she would sit around all day in the dark, rarely speaking. If you have experienced this you know how really disconcerting this can be.

About two years ago, I decided to take my mother out to the Banana Boat in Boynton Beach. The Banana Boat is an outdoor restaurant on the Intercoastal Waterway. The "Boat" has an outdoor restaurant and an outdoor bar where you can eat and listen to live music. Since my mother rarely speaks when we go out to dinner, I decided we would sit at the bar and eat. This would insure we had movement and people talking around us.

My mother ordered chicken wings and french fries, one of her favorites meals. My mother's eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw "a big basket of french fries". She was delighted. We had a very good time that night and I decided to do it the next Friday night. Pretty soon we were doing it most Friday nights.

After a few weeks, women started to come over and talk to us. The attraction was an older man with his elderly mother; they wanted to say how nice it was to see us. Keep in mind my mother was 90 at the time. Of course, they were saddened to hear that mom was suffering from Alzheimer's. Soon both women and men were coming over to talk.

I should point out that the Banana Boat is the kind of place that attracts many of the same people week-in-week-out. Since we go around 6:30 we catch the happy hour crowd many of whom stay until 8.

After a while, a small group of people started saving a chair for my mother as they were expecting us. The first time we missed a Friday one woman asked for our phone number and told me they were worried about "mom" when we didn't show up. So they wanted to be able to check if we hadn't told them we wouldn't be coming the next week. Now we call to let them know if we are not coming.

As time went on, our little group of friends started to get bigger and this turned out to be a "God send". Each week, one by one these wonderful people come up and start talking to my mother. She really enjoys this and her attitude perks up right away. They treat her just like everyone else and talk to her like she is one of the gang. This year a group got together and took my mother to the casino to play slot machines on here birthday. I cannot put into words how much this meant to mom and me.

My mother loved to dance. So, each and every week I asked her if she wanted to dance. Our new friends would also ask mom to dance--men and women alike. I could tell that mom wanted to dance but she always said, no. Mom is no longer confident around crowds or people she doesn't know, so while her instinct is to dance her brain is telling her no. I can tell you mom was never shy about dancing and she is a good dancer.

Last Friday night, I asked mom if she wanted to dance. She said, no. But, I could tell she really did want to dance this time. When we were getting ready to leave, and as mom stood up, I started dancing with her right on the spot. She was shaking it a little bit and had a big smile on her face. By the time we were done people had tears in their eyes and smiles as big as big could be. Wonderful people.

I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom and situations like this really help me to keep at it.

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

I can assure you it was really a wonderful moment in time.

Original content the Alzheimer's Diary

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The first of many signs of Alzheimer's in my mother that went undetected

I wrote the following in 2006. It was a long time before anyone realized my mother was suffering from dementia. Turns out this was one of the early signs.

I became a CareGiver before I had any idea that the word existed. It all started back in late 2003 after a series of strange occurrences by my mother. I guess I should have known when my mother ran her car over an abutment and scraped off the entire side of her car on a tree. Me, more than 1000 miles away, I was told the car was not that bad. A day later and on the scene, I found out the car was totaled. Fortunately, my tiny five foot tall, 87 year old mother was just fine. At least that is what she, her friends and all the doctors told me. While I accepted it at the time I just knew something was not right. This is when I started to worry. Often asking myself, what can or what should I do? At the time no one, not the people who saw her everyday, her personal physician, none of her neighbors recognized my mother was in an early stage of dementia. After all, she was still driving, paying her bills and going to bingo.


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

What I Wish I’d Done Differently

Been there, done that. An excellent article worth reading and passing along to friend.

I found out that one of the most important decision that can ever be made is the selection of an excellent personal physician. Are they still updating their education? This is one question I would ask. And the first thing I would recommend is asking question.

I would suggest adding the New Old Age to your reader. Click the link in the clip to do it.

Looking back on the last few years of my mother’s life, with 20/20 hindsight and the belated knowledge that came from four years of reporting about aging for The New York Times, my single biggest mistake was not finding a doctor with expertise in geriatrics to quarterback her care and attend to the quality of her life, not merely its length.

blog it

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

My mother at the age of 85 was a real dynamo

She lived on her own, paid her own bills, and took care of herself.......

My mother at the age of 85 was a dynamo. She lived on her own, paid her own bills, and took care of herself. She had been doing this for more than ten years since the death of my father. She was on her own.

My mother was often spotted walking to the pool in her community. A tiny women the senior citizens all around her marveled. It seemed as if father time had forgotten about her. There was no limit to what she could do. Walk 20 blocks, no problem, you name it. Up at dawn and awake at midnight she was a real dynamo.

My mother was very funny, a real character. She made people laugh and smile. She read the newspaper daily, did the crossword puzzle and watched CNN. She had opinions on everything and wanted to know your opinion. She was a wonderful person: always welcoming people into her home. She was noted for all of my 50 years for her great Italian cooking. I remember as a kid that all of my friends really looked forward to staying over our house. Donuts, spaghetti and meatballs you name it. Ravioli anyone? My mother was and is a real character.

Me? I was there with my mother when my fathered "passed away'; this was when I really started thinking about her longevity, her health. I was thinking about her for years knowing that someday she had to live with one of us (I have a brother and sister). As the years flew by I started to think about it more and more. She just kept going ang going without a health problem of any kind. Rarely a minor illness. But, I knew in my mind that sooner or later father time was going to catch up with her.

At times, my brother, sister and I had discussions about putting my mother into some kind of "facility". To be honest, to be honest now, I knew I would never be able to do it. While I had only mentioned it to a few people, I had made a promise to my father not long before he died. I promised him no matter what, I would take care of his wife of 55 years, my mother, our love, Dorothy. It was not a promise I made haphazardly. It seemed as natural to me as breathing. I already knew in my mind and my heart, I was the one.

I knew the day would come. I just didn't know when. Or how.

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