genicebrown56 Asked November 2011

My husband and I are concerned with both of our moms having been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's. What can we do to prevent these diseases as we age?

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Maybe we both should have a good check up with our family dr. and be tested for Alz. and Dem. He has had open heart surgery at the young age of 50, and a heart attack at 55. Maybe these severe and stressful medical problems have caused it, but his memory and maybe a little of his personality has changed over the past few years. He has noticed it as well as Ihave mentioned it to him. Our grown kids have even mentioned noticing a difference in him. I just figure since my mom has the demential, I may stand a chance also of getting it. What do we do? Can we just ask the dr. to test us? I think there is enough evidence to suspect his....and I feel like it wouldn't hurt to have myself checked. Now- what does the testing consist of? Cat Scan, MRI, a simple cognitive test- ?????? Neither of us are educated, so couldn't prove anything with a question like "Can you count backwards from 100 by 4's or anything. Any advice?

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tellaboomer Dec 2011
Similar to physical fitness & often referred to "brain fitness", cognitive stimulation programs such as Dakim Brain Fitness are tools to help cross-train your brain. As they say ... it's often a "use-it or loose it" proposition to help slow down the memory loss that occurs naturally as we age.
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Jennie Dec 2011
My Dad's geriatric psychologist says that reading is exercise for the mind, just as physical exercise is for the body. This is good news for me, since I read a lot, but, sadly, I can barely even get my Dad to read the newspaper. I hope you both like to read. (I wish physical exercise were as much fun!)
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mariesmom Dec 2011
There is a simple test called the Mini Mental exam you can search for. it is a preliminary screening test takes about 5 minutes. And yes you are required to count backwards on it - but you can so it slowly - its not a speed test! I have ample education and have always had trouble doing numbers or the alphabet in reverse! Good luck!
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planeman Dec 2011
My mother in law had dementia, every one of her five brothers & sisters had it, too. Now my wife is in an advanced state of the same. So, my middle daughter had a DNA test to see if she had the terrible gene that is credited with leading to dementia. She had it. But, and here comes the better part, she was told that one must have two genes to lead to inherited dementia and she did not have the second.

Now, is that true? It sure made her feel better. However, both my wife and I have joined a study group that is (as I recall) associated with the University of Indiana. They provide the experts and we, in our small way, supply ourselves as the lab rats -- there are numerous others in the study. There is also a group of Nuns who have individually willed their brains to an Alzheimers study but I cannot direct you to it. I imagine that a Google search would give you more info. The point being that there is a lot going on in this field. BTW, The U of Indiana study does not require any money from us lab rats and if dementia runs in your family, I urge you to join..My wife & I get a new questionnaire every couple of years and that's about it.

What did my daughter's DNA test cost? I haven't a clue. But if you want to get it, you have to pay for it. On the other hand, the university pays all expenses connected with the study.
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annetx Dec 2011
There are a ton of good articles on how to prevent dementia. For example:
"Study finds that walking six miles a week has brain benefits."
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Sounds like he's got lots of reasons to be under tremendous mental stress, and also is he on various medications? Don't just assume "well, due to genetic factors, he's going to be demented and he's already well on his way" -- looking at it that way may prevent the two of you from identifying and addressing fixable things that are affecting him now. Sounds like a very scary situation for both of you. Take some deep breaths! You're doing a good thing reaching out for alternative answers. When you talk to your doctor(s) say explicitly "I want to see what we can do to improve things in the present as well as get all the information I can about what we may be facing in the future" and don't EVER just accept "oh well, here, take this pill and that's that".
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He went through that stage for sure, but in 9 months was good as new. He went back to work, and hurt his back, requiring back surgery- but because of the steroid shot to help the back, he had a heart attack, which rendered him totally disabled- forced him to take an early retirement, and I think between not being able to work, and not being able to have a surgery to fix what's ailing him and keeps him in pain, he's sort of "lost" sometimes. Depression may be a big part of it. But he's forgetting things like grandkid's names- (all of a sudden calling our grand daughter by his daughters name from a previous marriage)- doesn't recall our address or phone number, home or cell- forgets simple words for things-
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allshesgot Nov 2011
Somthing I might add, I know from experience with my own dad, and grandad, that after open heart surgeries it is so common for them to become depressed, at the hospital where they had their surgeries, they had to attend a class while in the hospital about how they would change, might become depressed, and have feelings of their life being over, this may be all that is wrong. With hubby.
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jeannegibbs Nov 2011
Some types of dementia tend to run in families; others are not so clear-cut. Since your husband is exhibiting changes that concern you both, it may be worthwhile for him to have a thorough examination.

I don't know if it would serve any purpose for you to be tested for dementia. A diagnosis takes into account current and recent symptoms and you don't have any symptoms. There is no definitive "test" that proves dementia. Researchers are searching urgently for a biomarker that would help them make early and accurate diagnosis. It would be great to analyze blood or urine and determine whether a person has dementia, and what type. We are not there yet. If you went through all the tests and seemed to be free of dementia, that is no guarantee you wouldn't develop it next year. Personally, I don't think it it makes much sense to have that kind of testing when you have no memory loss, no cognitive problems, and no behavioral issues. But I'm not a professional. When you make the appointment for your husband, ask the doctor whether there would be any value in you going through the tests, too.

Good luck!
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I think there is a clock test. I know my husband had to recall three items that were mentioned a few minutes before. The CT scan can show lesions. I'm sure the neurologist has plenty of tests to be done. Maybe when he had a HA he didn't get enough oxygen to his brain for awhile. Just a thought.
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