November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. In honor of this month, we asked MMC Neurologist Dr. J. Blake Kellum, Jr. a few common questions regarding Alzheimer's Disease.
What is the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia?
Dementia is a catch-all term given to any condition resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline, as result of organic disease. Alzheimer's disease is a subset of dementia, and is the most common cause. Other causes include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, B12 deficiency, etc.
What are the early signs of Alzheimer's disease?
The 1st part of the brain involved with Alzheimer's disease is a part of the temporal lobe, referred to as the hippocampus. This structure is responsible for registering of new memories. Therefore the 1st symptom would involve short-term memory, consisting primarily of repeating questions and not remembering what is told to the patient. As the disease progresses, and other parts of the brain become involved, and one might see language disturbance and visuospatial disorientation. Changes in behavior and personality will also become manifest.
What are the causes of Alzheimer's disease?
The biochemical cause is the deposition of amyloid plaques in brain tissue, followed by the formation of tangles within neurons. The precise cause of this is unknown. There is no specific “Alzheimer's gene”, although there may be an association with certain types of biomolecules, such as apolipoproteins. The overall process is multifactorial.
How can family, friends and caregivers provide help for people with Alzheimer's disease?
Most importantly, friends and family can be of most help by being caring, understanding and patient. Consultation with trained professionals is of paramount importance.
If you have any questions, please call MMC Neurology at 615-867-8090 or visit mmclinic.com/neurology.