This month I would like to highlight an important topic that affects millions of people across the United States and worldwide – Dementia.
Dementia is a neurologic condition which includes a variety of symptoms at the forefront of which is a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily living. Memory, executive functioning, attention, visual special skills and language are the parameters used to assess a patient’s cognitive ability.
The most common form of dementia in the United States is Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative neurologic condition, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6 th leading cause of death in the United States.
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $236 Billion.
Family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Diagnosing dementia and its cause can be a difficult process. Typically a physician will take a thorough history and do a physical exam, administer a memory test, request certain blood work, and ask for an MRI of the head possible a brain SPECT/PET scan, lumbar puncture, EEG, psychiatric evaluation for depression and neurocognitive assessment. Despite all that the cause of once dementia may still be unclear. Treatment options often depend on the cause of dementia and in the case of Alzheimer’s are geared toward slowing a further cognitive decline.
In a June 6th Rolling Stone magazine and this month’s HuffingtonPost, a story about Kris Kristofferson’s struggle with memory issues highlighted a cause of Dementia that I commonly see in my practice – infections induced encephalitis causing significant mental decline. Like a number of my
patients, Kris was miss diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease for years, but due to the perseverance of his wife and a doctor who was able to obtain an extensive history and clinical testing, established a diagnosis of Neuroborreliosis caused by Lyme disease leading to Infections Induced Autoimmune
Encephalopathy that was treated and improved after appropriate care.
Please find the link to the Huffingtonpost article for your information:
huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-slow- slipping-away- kris-kristoffersons-long_us_577c047be4b00a3ae4ce6609
Elena Frid MD
Pediatric and Adult Autoimmune Neurology Specialist