Sometimes a person with dementia agrees to donate their brain. Brain donation helps researchers study brain diseases such as Alzheimer`s disease and related dementias, which affect millions of people. By studying the brains of deceased people, researchers are learning more about how types of dementia affect the brain and how we can better treat and prevent them. If you donate to a research study or to the NIH NeuroBioBank, the family incurs no fees for the donation and an autopsy report. If the primary care doctor has been able to rule out other causes of your symptoms, they will refer you to a doctor who specializes in diagnosing dementia, such as: The similarity of symptoms of different dementias can make it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. But proper diagnosis is important to get proper treatment. There is no single test to determine if a person has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer`s disease and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, daily function, and behavior associated with each type. Doctors can determine with great certainty that a person has dementia. However, it is more difficult to determine the exact type of dementia because the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap.
In some cases, a doctor may diagnose “dementia” and not specify a type. In this case, it may be necessary to consult a specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician. Read more: Memory tests There is not a single test that tells your doctor if you have dementia. It is a process. You may have several of the following, and then your doctor will compile all the information to make a diagnosis. It is unusual in people under 60 years of age. By the age of 85, about 1 in 5 people will develop dementia. Dementia gets worse over time and, unfortunately, there is no cure. Researchers are working to find new ways to prevent and treat dementia. Scientists study how underlying disease processes begin and influence each other in different forms of dementia. They continue to explore the variety of disorders and disease processes that contribute to dementia. For example, based on autopsy studies, researchers recently characterized another form of dementia known as LATE.
More knowledge about the underlying causes of dementia will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more individualized prevention and treatment strategies. Aboriginal Australians are more likely to suffer from dementia. You`re also more likely to get it at a younger age. The GP and specialist may also jointly prescribe medicines that can relieve some of the symptoms of dementia. But not everyone will benefit from these drugs. In some cases, electrical activity in the brain can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG). Doctors rarely use this test to diagnose dementia. But they can use it to distinguish dementia from delirium and look for unusual brain activity found in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare cause of dementia. Dementia is more common as people age (about one-third of all people aged 85 or older may have some form of dementia), but it`s not a normal part of aging.
Many people live to age 90 and beyond without signs of dementia. Most likely, you will see your GP first if you have any concerns about dementia. Or you may be referred to a doctor trained in diseases of the nervous system (neurologist). Early and accurate diagnosis of dementia excludes other treatable problems and allows you to plan for the future. In general, your best bet is a super specialist, such as a geriatric psychiatrist, a geriatrician with a special interest in dementia, or a behavioral neurologist. If appointments with these specialists are not available, or if your insurance does not cover these visits, a second choice would be a specialist such as a geriatrician, psychiatrist or neurologist recommended by your primary care physician. Researchers studying what happens in the brain after death have recently helped characterize a new form of dementia: age-related limbic-predominant TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE). LATE causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer`s disease, including problems with thinking, memory, and reasoning, but with different underlying causes. These are abnormal clumps of a protein called TDP-43. This protein is also involved in frontotemporal dementia, but LATE shows a different pattern of brain changes and tends to affect the elderly. For example, a team of researchers analyzed the brains of 6,196 people whose average age at death was 88 and found that nearly 40 percent of them had LATE.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be devastating. There are many details you need to consider to ensure that you and others are as prepared as possible to deal with an unpredictable and progressive condition. Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be stopped or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often disappears with treatment. Although these drugs are primarily used to treat Alzheimer`s disease, they can also be prescribed for other dementias, including vascular dementia, Parkinson`s dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. Many conditions are progressive, which means that signs of dementia start slowly and gradually worsen. If you or someone you know has memory problems or other changes in thinking skills, don`t ignore them. See a doctor soon to determine the cause. A professional assessment can identify a treatable condition. And even if the symptoms are indicative of dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to make the most of available treatments and offers the opportunity to volunteer for clinical trials.
There is also time to plan for the future. Read more: 10 warning signs, stages of Alzheimer`s disease An Alzheimer Society study showed that more than half of people wait up to a year to get help for dementia symptoms because they are anxious. But accurate and early diagnosis can have many benefits. Early detection of symptoms is important because some causes can be treated. However, in many cases, the cause of dementia is unknown and cannot be treated. Still, early diagnosis can help manage the disease and plan ahead. Experts estimate that an experienced doctor can diagnose Alzheimer`s disease with more than 90% accuracy. The first step in monitoring symptoms is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with. Many people turn to their primary care doctor for their memory or thinking problems, and primary care physicians often monitor the diagnostic process themselves.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the neurological department at the nearest medical school for a referral. A medical school hospital may also have a dementia clinic that offers expert assessment.