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Hello, my name isXXXXX and I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. I believe I can answer your question.
Thank you for your question. First, let’s look at the official criteria for a diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer's type. They are as follows:
A. The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both (1) memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information) (2) one (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances: (a) aphasia (language disturbance) (b) apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function) (c) agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function) (d) disturbance in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing, abstracting)
B. The cognitive deficits in Criteria A1 and A2 each cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.
C. The course is characterized by gradual onset and continuing cognitive decline.
D. The cognitive deficits in Criteria A1 and A2 are not due to any of the following: (1) other central nervous system conditions that cause progressive deficits in memory and cognition (e.g., cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, subdural hematoma, normal-pressure hydrocephalus, brain tumor) (2) systemic conditions that are known to cause dementia (e.g., hypothyroidism, vitamin B or folic acid deficiency, niacin deficiency, hypercalcemia, neurosyphilis, HIV infection) (3) substance-induced conditions
E. The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium.
F. The disturbance is not better accounted for by another Axis I disorder (e.g., Major Depressive Episode, Schizophrenia).
As a general rule, the onset of Alzheimer's is characterized by the loss of a cognitive ability one once had. Typically, in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's, one loses the ability to remember things just learned. Oftentimes, this is indicated by one's inability to recall something they just read, inability to remember to pay bills, difficulty recalling how to balance a checkbook, and so on. The key difference between short-term memory loss associated with age and short-term memory loss associated with Alzheimer's is this: an older person can still recall information from their short-term memory when given a cue or reminder whereas an individual with early Alzheimer's has difficulty remembering even with a cue.
With regard to tasks, those requiring more complex cognitive abilities are increasingly difficult for those in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
One note about aphasia as described in the criteria above: aphasia typically involves a decreasing vocabulary and language fluency. This means that in the early stages, it is often difficult for an individual with Alzheimer's to find words to express themselves.The most important thing you can do is to get a complete evaluation and assessment. Alzheimer's has become a catchall diagnosis for many types of dementia and memory loss. For example, the following conditions can create symptoms similar to Alzheimer's: anemia, depression, infection, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, certain vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, and diseases of the heart, blood vessels and lungs. A proper diagnosis is imperative.
Have I answered your question completely? If so, please remember to click the Accept button and leave your feedback for me. If not, please let me know what information would improve it. Should you have additional questions in the future, you may always contact me here at Just Answer.
My first reaction was 'oh dear a googled answer'
I NEED person centred empathic guidance. It is a 'black hole' situation which has to have a response from someone from whom there is more than a passing knowledge of the chaos dementia causes.
This system seems to be a bit Russian Roulettish!
Thank you for the feedback. The system is set up to provide informational answers, as I did for you. We do not provide online therapy or establish a therapeutic relationship. I will opt-out and let another expert handle your question. Thank you and best of luck.
Does this mean that I have to pay although I am not satisfied?
Hello. Thank you for coming to JustAnswer with your question, and welcome.
I may be able to help you with the information you are seeking. I have many years experience working with people who suffer from dementia, of all types.
In Alzheimer's disease, the early stages of the disease usually only present with mild memory impairment, especially with learning of new information. People with early Alzheimer's often function quite well if they remain in an environment they have been familiar with for a long time. When new situation arise, there will be more difficulty processing information, with remembering details of new information, and with making decisions that involve unfamiliar circumstances. Some people may have behavioral changes because of this, and some may not. A common behavior would be believing others are "stealing" items that may have been misplaced, or actually lost years ago.
I have to tell you, however, that many times it is very difficult to tell the difference between very early Alzheimer's disease, or dementia and the cognitive slowing that happens normally with advancing age.
Also, there are other causes of dementia, and other causes of confusional states that may be reversible.
I don't know how much information you need, so please do reply if I have not completely answered your question.
I am sorry you are having to deal with this issue, whether in yourself or with a loved one. It is a very difficult situation to deal with, however it can be dealt with.
Other common behavior issues would be depression and anxiety---this usually happens during the time during the mild stage when the person realizes there is a problem with brain function. Other behaviors would be centered around trying to keep other people from knowing there is a problem---for instance filling in bits of information when recounting an experience because all the details cannot be remembered (some people perceive this as "lying"). Or, becoming reclusive because it is too difficult to leave the house and deal with new situations. Fear of getting lost; of not remembering what to do in a given situation all the time takes a toll on mood and ability to enjoy life.
There are many examples, but generally behaviors in the mild stages, like I said, center around losses of memory and trying to deal with this.
Later, behavior can be more problematic, but this does not happen with everyone. Aggressive behavior can happen later on, but usually this occurs in different types of dementia. Generally, people with Alzheimer's only become aggressive when they do not recognize that something or someone is not a threat to them. An example would be a person who fights a caregiver when getting ready for bathing. The person does not recognize the caregiver, or understand why they are being helped to remove clothing---the person may believe they are being attacked by a stranger.
If you can tell me your specific situation, I may be able to better help you.
You have clearly demonstrated a sensitive understanding of early dementia.
I fully appreciate your responses.
I am new to this system.
What do I do if I want to consult with you specifically?
My previous expert quoted Google back to me!
You can add "For Valarie" to your question posted to the Health category if you would like me specifically to respond to your question. I am online almost every day.
And, thank you for your kind words.
I wish you, and yours well.