Alzheimer’s Disease: Dementia Tests

Statistics show that over five million individuals are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. The early onset normally begins at the age of sixty-five or older, but it is not uncommon for someone to exhibit signs of the disease as early as forty. Living with Alzheimer’s can be very difficult for anyone, but it definitely takes a toll on the immediate family

In early stages, the brain will begin to be affected by Alzheimer’s, but one will not begin to experience symptoms, until later on. Healthy neurons will be negatively affected by abnormal deposits of protein, which forms beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. This will cause the neurons to not be able to communicate with each other effectively.

The glial cells have several functions including insulating the neurons, holding them in place, and providing them with much needed nutrients. The glial cells are supposedly affected by the tau tangles, which potentially leads their decrease in functioning and eventually death of the cells.

Scientists continue to ponder what the true role of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles have in the role of Alzheimer’s disease. There are several risk factors that are linked to the development of the disease.

Genetic Factors- Apolipoprotein e4 (APOE4) is the most prominent gene.CVA (Stroke)Uncontrolled Hypertension (high blood pressure)Cardiovascular DiseaseUncontrolled DiabetesObesityFamilial Alzheimer’s has been linked to less than five percent of the early onset cases with individuals presenting with signs, as early as thirty years of age, but no later than sixty.

 

Stages

Stage I – No Impairment (no signs and symptoms are present)Stage II – Extremely Mild Decline In Cognitive Functioning (Unable to diagnose at this pointStage III – Mild Decline In Cognitive Functioning (Diagnosable In Some Individuals)Mild Short Term Memory LossForgets Names, Words, Item PlacementStruggles With Organizing and Planning TasksStage IV – Moderate Decline In Cognitive Functioning (Easy To Diagnose)Increased Short Term Memory LossDifficulty In MathematicIncapable Of Handling Personal FinancesStage V – Moderately/Severe Decline In Cognitive FunctioningDifficulty Dressing and Performing activities of daily livingConfusionIncapable Of Recalling Personal Information (Address)Stage VI – Severe Decline In Cognitive FunctioningBowel & Bladder IncontinenceInability To Care For OneselfConfusionOut Of Control Behavior with Wandering

Neurological Tests

 

Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) is one of the most common exams used to diagnose Alzheimer’s and dementia and its severity. Thirty points is the highest score possible. A score between twenty and twenty-four suggests mild dementia. A score between thirteen and twenty suggest moderate dementia. Below twelve represents severe dementia. This is an oral and written exam that is administered by a healthcare professional.

Mini-Cog exam is used as a tool to help decide, whether or not further testing is required. There are two main types of questions on this test, which involve memory recall and drawing a full clock design.

Neurological Exam is completed by the physician. Deep tendon reflexes, ocular motility, speech, sensory examination are some of the things that the physician will check, during the exam.

 

Diagnostic Tests

 

Computed Tomography Of The BrainMagnetic Resonance Of The HeadThese tests are used to rule out CVA, tumors, and hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and for a more precise diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Treatment

 

Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease, but there are some medications that can be used to potentially help improve and slow the decline of cognitive and memory functions. Cholinesterase Inhibitors work by boosting the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for the learning ability, mood stabilization, and memory function.