What’s the Difference: A Look at Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia: The presence of multiple cognitive deficits by both memory impairment and one or more of the following:

  • Executive functioning (planning, organization, sequencing, abstraction)
  • Aphasia, Apraxia, Agnosia
  • No delirium
  • Interferes with social or occupational functioning

Alzheimer’s Disease: A slowly progressing brain disease, which is the most common form of dementia. It affects recent memories first, then begins to affect emotions, decision making, personality, eventually destroying long-term memory and ability to interact with the world. In the moderate stages you might notice mood and communication changes, delirium, and wandering.

It is not easy to distinguish between dementia (and its other causes) and Alzheimer’s.   They are often confused because they share a similar set of symptoms, but Alzheimer’s is just one of many possible causes of dementia.

Some causes of dementia may sometimes be treatable, so it is important to talk with your doctor to try and figure out exactly what is going on. A diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean the person has Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cannot technically be diagnosed while someone is alive, because the only definite way to identify Alzheimer’s is to examine brain tissue upon a person’s death. It can be very challenging to deal with not being able to find an absolutely definitive diagnosis.

Information care of Kim Butrum, RN, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner from The Memory Center at the Seton Brain and Spine Institute

Below is a video from aboutalz.org which explains the process that occurs within the brain with Alzheimer’s:

AGE serves an average of 40 older adults every day who need daytime supervision and assistance due to a memory impairment. AGE’s Adult Day Centers provide a community where older adults can engage with their peers in therapeutic and stimulating activities under the supervision of a full-time nurse and trained staff. This program helps these vulnerable older adults avoid early nursing home placement and instead keeps them at home with their families. This gives family caregivers the respite they need to continue to work and balance taking care of their families and themselves.

If you would like to join the AGE of Central Texas family by giving towards the direct services that benefit clients and family caregivers who are dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s, please click here or send a check to AGE at 3710 Cedar St # 2 Austin, TX 78705. Feel free to reach us at www.ageofaustin.org or 512.451.4611.

 We are ever grateful for those who support us in deed and word in our mission to serve older adults and those who care for them. With your support, we hope to continue to meet the needs of this community.

Living with Alzheimer’s Disease

YNN Austin recently highlighted Alzheimer’s Disease in their Healthy Living segment. Check out the video to learn more about recent research. -SP

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease where nerves in the brain die. Recent studies have identified new genes that may contribute to the late onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Some new developments have come out in Alzheimer’s research. Find out more in this edition of “Healthy Living.” Watch the video to check it out.

Volunteer Program Targets Medicare Fraud

Thanks to Aging Service Council newsletter for this article.

A few older adults are milling around outside a senior center. Someone approaches them and offers to arrange to purchase scooters for them through Medicare. Because they’ll need physicals before being approved for the scooters-and they’ll need a ride-the person offers to drive them as a group to see a doctor, all for free. After a brief check of their vital signs, the seniors go home. And wait. Sometimes the scooter never arrives, but the Medicare statement does; sometimes a cheap scooter shows up, but Medicare is paying for a really nice one. And someone else, the thief who billed Medicare, pocketed the difference.

The double-whammy here is that these seniors have given out their Medicare ID number, so they risk getting a statement for other services they didn’t request and having their identity stolen.

This is one of dozens of scenarios in the world of Medicare fraud. Considering that Medicare provides health insurance to around 44 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries, it’s a daunting task to alert seniors about what’s happening and how to prevent it.

But that’s just what thousands of SMPs are doing. SMPs are senior volunteers-4,685 in 2008-around the country who are working to educate their peers on how to avoid, detect, and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse that occur all too frequently in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. SMPs give presentations in the community, exhibit at events such as health fairs, answer calls to the SMP help lines, and do one-on-one counseling. They teach beneficiaries how to protect their personal identity, identify and report errors on their health care bills, and recognize deceptive practices. When fraud is discovered, SMPs refer it to the next level of investigators.

Click Here to read the full article

Antibodies may play a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

When researchers studied blood samples from more than 250 individuals who were between 21 and 89 years old, and either did or did not have Alzheimer’s disease, they found the presence of antibodies which targeted amyloid beta in the blood. The levels of these antibodies dropped as the subjects grew older and continued to drop in individuals with the brain disorder as the disease progressed.

Read More Here: Science Daily

Combination of two tests shows improved accuracy when distinguishing between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia

When researchers reviewed 81 previously published studies comparing cognitive testing for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, they found that only two of 118 tests could accurately distinguish between the two conditions, reports the American Psychological Association. Those with Alzheimer’s disease performed better on the Emotional Recognition Task, which evaluates an individual’s ability to identify facial expressions in photographs and match emotional expressions to situations. Those with vascular dementia performed better on the Delayed Story Recall test. According to the authors, while these two tests proved to be the most reliable at distinguishing between the diseases, screeners should exercise caution and use cognitive tests only in conjunction with other information such as imaging and medical history in determining the most accurate diagnosis.

Read more here: Health News Digest

Puzzling Out 10 Alzheimer’s Myths

ABC News Medical Unit
May 29, 2009
According to the National Institutes of Health, 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia in the elderly.

While we know Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys a person’s ability to think, reason or recall memories, there is no way to diagnose it without performing an autopsy, clearly too late to help doctors trying to help the person live with the ailment.

Diagnosis consists of looking at signs of cognitive decline, among other measures. But making a definite diagnosis is, at present, not possible.

Treatment, too, has been elusive. While the disease has been linked to the accumulation and hardening of proteins known as beta amyloid on the surface of the brain, researchers were able to develop a trial vaccine that eliminated the beta amyloid plaques but did not prevent the development of Alzheimer’s. And researchers have found people who have the plaques but do not display any signs of dementia.

It has become clear that Alzheimer’s will take significantly different courses in different people, and, like cancer, likely has a multitude of causes.

Because Alzheimer’s disease’s origins and course remain a mystery, perhaps it should come as no surprise that different doctors have different approaches to the disease.

Dr. Peter Whitehouse, founder of the University Memory and Aging Center at University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University, and author of “The Myth of Alzheimer’s,” approaches Alzheimer’s as one of many natural courses of aging, rather than as a disease that requires immediate diagnosis.

Read more here: ABC News