Back to home Oct. 2012
Lee Memory Care
Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease?
Marked by symptoms ranging from memory loss, the inability to remember new information, difficulty planning and organizing, to personality changes, dementia is a general term that describes these and other symptoms that affect one's intellectual and social abilities. It is not just that the symptoms are present, but that they impact or interfere with daily functioning. There are many causes of dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common.
"Alzheimer's disease causes specific changes in the brain and there is a specific pattern related to the types of cognitive function and memory impacted," explains Michael Raab, M.D., geriatrician. "Information doesn't 'stick.' For example, from a list of 15 things, you can repeat 10 things. Then, 20 minutes later, you don't remember anything."
When you or your loved one begin experiencing symptoms of memory loss, it is important to see a physician to ensure the appropriate diagnosis is made. "At Lee Memory Care, we do three hours of detailed memory testing and a one-and-a-half hour physical exam," Dr. Raab says. "We complete blood tests and brain imaging with specific views of the brain—this helps us make an accurate diagnosis."
Dr. Raab explains that various causes of dementia have similar, or overlapping, symptoms, which is why detailed testing is so important. "It is not easy to determine if someone is not 'getting it' or getting it and then losing it," Dr. Raab says. "The testing is sophisticated, and helps us differentiate the areas of thinking that have been lost."
Treatment varies based on the cause of the problem, which Dr. Raab says can be vitamin deficiencies, vascular memory impairment, excessive alcohol, high blood sugar or Alzheimer's disease.
"Most people can improve their memory even if they have a memory disease," Dr. Raab says. "Decreasing stress and getting regular physical and brain exercise can help."
“It is not easy to determine if someone is not 'getting it' or getting it and then losing it,” says Dr. Raab.
Know The Signs of Dementia