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What causes Dementia?

Alzheimer’s causes 50-60% of all Dementia

  1. Diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s can cause degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain.
  2. Diseases affecting blood vessels, such as stroke can cause a type of dementia called multi-impact Dementia.
  3. Infections of the brain and spinal cord such as AIDS and Creutzfeldt- Jackob disease can cause dementia
  4. Certain types of accumulation of fluid in the brain called Hydrocephalus can be the result of infection, injury or brain tumors and cause Dementia
  5. Head injuries, either a single event or longer term smaller injuries can result in changes in brain function
  6. Long term alcohol/ drug abuse can lead to changes in brain function as well


What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

Alzheimer’s is one type of Dementia. It has no known cause or cure, and can only be diagnosed by identifying the pattern of symptoms. There is no one test which can give a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia and therefore medical providers need to work together to determine if treatment for Alzheimer’s is appropriate. Diagnosing any type of Dementia that an individual may have will depend on personal/family history, medical history, and current symptoms. Each will be critical to determining if you have any form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Your doctor may also want to perform other evaluations such as an MRI, CT scan or MRA to determine other criteria which exist in various forms of Dementia


My doctor wants me to have Neuropsychological testing. What exactly is a Neuropsychological Assessment?

Determining the type of dementia is critical for your physician to make decisions about intervention. A Neuropsychological Assessment includes a thorough clinical interview to go over your current symptoms, medical history, psychiatric history and current medications. In addition, testing can be performed to determine if your symptoms are age appropriate or produce a pattern consistent with a more serious medical condition. Testing is experienced often like school- puzzles, question-answer and problem solving quizzes. The results of the testing often demonstrated certain patterns which allow your physician in combination with other tests to consider the next step in treatment, such as medications. Safety issues, such as appropriateness to drive, manage major medical decisions, finances and independent living can also be discussed with the results of such testing.


Can depression or anxiety contribute or cause memory loss?

Depression, anxiety or any other emotional state can interfere with our ability to think clearly and remember information. Often stress can impact our physical health, including our memory and energy level, this loss of motivation can mimic symptoms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Evaluation of all factors which can influence thought processes and memory is critical to help your doctors make appropriate recommendations.