Dementia…What Is It?headingContent

Posted on August 10, 2016

Three trees in the shape of heads, one green, one yellow green, and one red with much of the leaves in the back goneWhat is Dementia?

Pat Summit, who was a legendary college basketball coach, recently died with early onset Alzheimer’s dementia. Her passing and diagnosis was highlighted in the national media, which brought more awareness to this disease. Purple is the color designated to recognize those affected with this disease, and people can participate in an annual walk to help raise awareness and support.

While there are several different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common. Dementia describes a decline in a person’s thinking abilities. These thinking difficulties are significant enough where they interfere with the person’s abilities to take care of everyday activities.  Most will get worse over time and have no cure.  Some dementia’s are, however, reversible such as depression, medication effects, excessive alcohol use, thyroid dysfunction and certain vitamin deficiencies.

Signs and Symptoms

If you or your loved one is concerned about dementia, here are some early warning signs to look for:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Problems with daily activities
  • Confusion with location
  • Visual and spatial problems
  • Problems with speaking or writing
  • Poor judgment
  • Social withdrawal and mood changes

Evaluation and Treatment

It is normal to experience some changes with our thinking as we age, but some people may begin to have these problems more frequently, which can disrupt the person’s ability to do every day activities. This is when it is important to talk to your doctor about these changes.  Your doctor may refer you to see a specialist to evaluate your thinking and mood. This likely will include a neurologist, neuropsychologist and/or a psychiatrist. While Alzheimer’s and most other dementia’s cannot be reversed, early diagnosis can lead to improved response from treatment, allow more time to plan for the future, increase opportunities to participate in clinical drug trials, participate in decision making about care and better access to support services.

What Neuropsychologists Can Do to Help?

Neuropsychologists are often involved in the diagnostic process and conduct tests to assess functions of the brain such as attention, memory, language and reasoning; emotional functioning is also assessed.

In our clinic at the Palm Beach Neuroscience Institute (PBNI) we have neurologists and neuropsychologists who specialize in memory disorders and dementia.  We conduct comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, which provides information about diagnosis and recommendations to doctors, and to patients and their families.   If you or a loved one have memory concerns, talk to your doctor or contact our clinic at 561-623-4980.