NeuroHealth Geriatric compassionately focuses on the needs and symptoms of the adult having memory and cognitive symptoms. Thorough testing is conducted to determine if the problem is due to normal aging, a mild cognitive impairment, or a dementia. Consultation with other professionals is undertaken to coordinate care, as needed.
The following conditions are most commonly encountered:
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually the most basic ability to carry out the simple tasks will be impaired. Most people with Alzheimer’s begin to see symptoms after age 60. Estimates are not exact, but experts believe that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among our older population.
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.
Loss of adequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body. The brain has one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels and is especially sensitive to changes in blood flow making it very vulnerable.
In vascular dementia, changes in “thinking skills” will sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels. Thinking problems also may appear as mild changes that worsen gradually as a result of numerous minor strokes or similar conditions that affect smaller blood vessels, leading to cumulative damage. Vascular brain changes often can be diagnosed with changes linked to other types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Many studies have found that vascular changes and other brain abnormalities may act together in ways that increase the probability of dementia diagnosis.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Mild cognitive impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function. Because of the mild changes caused by MCI they are not severe enough to affect daily life. A person with MCI typically does not meet the diagnostic guidelines for dementia. Then again, those with MCI do have an increased risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Not all people with MCI get worse and some eventually get better.
Dementia represents the most common neurodegenerative disorders affecting approximately 5% of the elderly population over age 65 years. Currently, different forms of dementia are distinguished, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia secondary to diseases, such as AIDS dementia. Different than AD, these atypical dementias are often linked with neurological symptoms, reflecting the localization of the degenerative process rather than the nature of the underlying histopathology.
Frontal Networks Syndromes
The frontal lobes of the brain make us who we are. Frontal lobe syndrome results from immunological and structural changes in the frontal lobes (the dendritic spines in particular) often related to the person`s genetic predisposition. In some cases the cause is clear , in other words alcohol, narcotics, head injury, infection, brain tumor and stroke. In some cases the frontal lobe syndrome is part of depression, anxiety, autism or schizophrenia. Doctors typically do not examine the frontal lobes very well. One example is the stroke patient who goes home after recovering mobility but has an undiagnosed frontal lobe syndrome. Sometimes the proper diagnosis is delayed for weeks or even months, by which time the spouse of the patient has suffered greatly often without support.
When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes suffering for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a form depressive illness never seek treatment. The majority of these persons, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. There are many methods that can effectively treat people with depression.