Educating family important alzheimers patients

09, Jun 2020

Millions of caregivers give countless hours of their valuable time to care for their loved ones with Alzheimer's disease.

Educating family, friends and coworkers to recognize the necessity of Alzheimer's treatment is especially important year round.

Dementia is an acquired chronic impairment of memory and other aspects of intellect that impedes daily functioning.

Mild cognitive impairment describes cognitive decline greater than expected for age but without interference with daily functioning.

Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Characteristic findings of Alzheimer's disease are memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating, difficulty finding words, getting lost, difficulty with dressing and grooming, and doing housework, mood, and personality changes, become confused, depressed, poor judgment or decision-making.

Causes may include a combination of environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors.

Individuals with a family member suffering from Alzheimer's are more likely to develop this disease.

There remains growing evidence for possible dietary risk factors in the development of Alzheimer's and cognitive decline.

People who follow a primarily plant-based diet, such as fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, legumes, and whole grains and are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease.

Antioxidants can protect the brain from oxidative and inflammatory damage.

Early detection of dementia at the primary care level can help patients get the care they need, and even help slow down disease progression through lifestyle changes and treatment.

When a patient begins exhibiting symptoms of memory loss, a family member or loved one brings them to their doctor to get a memory test.

Medicare annual wellness visits for people over 65 performed by primary care physicians involve cognition testing — complete memory tests.

Regular follow-ups are a key component in improving the overall value and effectiveness of individual visits.

While diagnosing dementia, delirium must be excluded through a review of medications, signs or symptoms of infection, or metabolic abnormalities.

Depression must also be excluded as well through proper screening measures.

Usual laboratory studies include a CBC, complete metabolic profile, TSH, vitamin B12, UA and RPR.

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Imaging such as head CT scan or brain MRI detects nondegenerative causes that would alter management, such as cerebrovascular disease, neoplasm, or subdural hematoma.

A score of less than 24 on the Mini-Mental state examination (MMSE) is compatible with dementia. Other diagnostic tools include the Montréal cognitive assessment and the "Mini-Cog" test.

Gathering information from patients about their future wishes, or discerning the patient's goals and wishes from family members and caregivers if a patient fails to do so, is truly an art of medicine.

Management of Alzheimer's dementia should focus on essential education and supports for the patient, family and caregivers.

Consider referral to the local Alzheimer's Association for valuable support for families that can provide assistance in planning and solving future problems.

Take appropriate measures in fall prevention and addressing driving abilities in inclusive conversations with patients and family.

Drugs such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors slow intellectual decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, whereas memantine to delay cognitive and functional decline in moderate to advanced dementia (MMSE 3-14).

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.

Please spread the word about the importance of brain health and wear purple this month.

Dr. Sue Mitra can be reached at 321-622-6222 or Call now to assess your brain health and take action early on.


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Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.