Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

…we still have to say that Alzheimer’s disease is a diagnosis of exclusion

Today we will continue our discussion from WCPN Radio Talk Show “The Sound of Ideas” with Mike McIntyre. We learn important facts from Dr. Ashford as he teaches us more about Alzheimer’s and the brain. I encourage you to share this post with friends and family to help spread useful information and to help educated people about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Listen to the full radio talk show by clicking HERE.

Mike McIntyre :

I wonder Dr. Ashford, there isn’t a blood test that you can have for Alzheimer’s disease? I guess there is some brain scanning that can be done that might show certain proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s but that might not also be definitive, so how do you diagnose it?

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Dr. Ashford :

I think at this point we still have to say that Alzheimer’s disease is a diagnosis of exclusion. There at least 50 other types of known diseases that cause Alzheimer’s disease and some of them are treated. Its very important to identify them. When you see somebody who has specifically memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease is mostly a disease of memory, which is well portrayed in the movie [Still Alice] and they have other cognitive impairments, and going down hill over a period of at least 6 months and their social functions are interfered with is when we say its probable Alzheimer’s disease.

Mike McIntyre :

Is there ever a definitive, is it always probable?

Dr. Ashford :

Yes, until you can take a look at the brain itself, that is what we say.

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Mike McIntyre :

Join our Conversation Jason. He has a question to ask us, he says “I often hear the names Alzheimer’s and dementia used interchangeably and I have to ask is there a difference between the two or are they basically the same disease. My grandmother passed away a year and a half ago and part of her death was caused by alcohol induced dementia,” so lets talk about that Nancy, the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Nancy Udelson :

Actually that is probably the number one question that we get asked. Dementia is the umbrella, its cancer if you will and Alzheimer’s is the most common form. So just like their are many different kinds of cancer there are many different kinds of dementia.

Mike McIntyre :

And so you deal specifically with Alzheimer’s disease, so tell me a little bit about that and how it differentiates itself.

Nancy Udelson :

Well we do deal primarily with Alzheimer’s and part of that, a big part of that, is because that is our name which is “Alzheimer’s Association,” but we also do work with people that have other forms of dementia such as fronto-temporal dementia or vascular dementia and I think it is important for people to know that they can call us with any type of dementia and we will provide them services as well.

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