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If I Don't Have Alzheimer's What Else Could Be The Problem? Here are a few.....

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is just one type of dementia but it is most likely the one that you hear about the most. Your memory also can be negatively impacted by many other health issues, such as a stroke, Parkinson's disease, or a buildup of fluid on your brain (NPH).


For instance, the following are other factors that can negatively impact your memory and should be evaluated by your primary care physician or neurologist.


Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Low vitamin B12 levels have been associated with neurodegenerative disease and cognitive impairment (slow mentation, memory deficits, confusion) in some people. There is a small subset of dementias that are reversible with vitamin B12 therapy and this treatment is generally considered inexpensive and safe.


Depression: If you're depressed, you may find it hard to focus or remember things you need to do. You also may sleep too much or too little, not want to spend time with your friends and loved ones, and feel hopeless much of the time.


Certain Prescribed Medications: There are certain drugs (such as antihistamines, anti-nausea medicine, steroids, and bladder relaxants) that at certain dosage levels can cause symptoms that might look like dementia, particularly for older adults. The older you get, sometimes you may need to take more than one drug at a time, and they can interact with each other and cause side effects like confusion. If you think a medicine you take is negatively impacting your memory or slowing your thoughts, call your doctor right away.


Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): In some people, especially those of advanced age, UTIs can cause a sudden onset of symptoms that look like dementia. The person may get confused, upset, sleepy, or have trouble paying attention. Some people can hallucinate (which is that they believe they see or hear something no one else can). A urine can help your doctor know if you have an infection, you'll probably be given antibiotics to clear it up.


Vestibular Disorders: The vestibular (inner ear balance) system senses head movement and orientation in space. Vestibular sensory input plays a critical role in spatial cognitive abilities such as spatial memory and spatial navigation. Vestibular function declines with age, and recent studies have shown that age-related vestibular impairment is associated with poorer spatial cognitive skills in healthy older adults. Moreover, vestibular impairment is disproportionately prevalent among individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.


If you notice changes to your cognition that have you concerned, see your doctor right away. They can give you a thorough medical exam that may include taking a sample of your blood for testing, brain imaging, and a brief cognitive testing to figure out what's going on with your health and get you help. If your brief cognitive testing is abnormal you could benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation which can help them determine if your cognitive abilities are below expectations for your age and education. This will also aid in differential diagnosis and treatment considerations.


If you live in the New Jersey or New York area and would like to schedule a neuropsychological evaluation for yourself or a family member in order to determine if there have been any potential cognitive changes that would be atypical or unexpected for your age please contact Dr. Corey Burchette at 201-577-8286 to inquire about scheduling an appointment at the New Jersey Memory Center which is located in Verona, New Jersey. Easily accessible from many points in North Jersey (including Montclair, Upper Montclair, Cedar Grove, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Caldwell, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Totowa, Wayne, Little Falls, West Orange, and many more).

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