We reached out to the Pacific Neuro-Science Institute for an update on Alzheimer’s dementia. This feature will be printed in monthly segments. This is the second installment.
When it comes to memory concerns, the sooner these can be evaluated, the better. There are several reasons for that. For one thing, many of us may be perpetually worried about potential memory problems, fearing that every time we misplace our keys or forget someone’s name, we must be experiencing the first signs of dementia.
This is a common concern – therefore, getting evaluated can be a great way to put our minds at ease. Beyond the benefits of reducing needless worries and unbridled stress – something that is bad for our brain health as well as our general well-being – it can be very helpful to a have a “baseline” in order to compare future changes.
There are several potentially “reversible” conditions which may result in memory/cognitive changes such as certain vitamin deficiencies, hormonal abnormalities, and medication side effects. And, perhaps most importantly, even when one of these easily treatable conditions may not be discovered, early detection is still the key that opens the door for early intervention.
While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the most promising treatments, including diet, exercise, social engagement, and other lifestyle interventions, have the greatest potential for benefit when implemented early.
Taking this approach, along with addressing a series of factors that may contribute to poor brain health like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, untreated sleep apnea and insomnia, mood disorders, autoimmune conditions and other causes of chronic inflammation, may help prevent or delay the onset of serious symptoms. Your physician may refer you to a geriatrician or dementia specialist to have you evaluated through a complete geriatric assessment.
In addition, a variety of resources from community support pro-grams to clinical trials may be available to help once an issue has been identified.
If you or others in your family or circle of friends are seeing worrisome signs of memory loss, get checked. Remember, not all memory loss is Alzheimer’s. There are many forms of dementia. Many can be resolved, treated, or slowed down. Seeing your primary care physician is a first step. When you do, it is best to take someone with you to ensure that everyone is hearing the same information accurately.
By Dr. Scott Kaiser and Mihae Kim, AGNP-BC