Mum had brain scan yesterday. Will this tell us if she has dementia now?

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Mom will be 93 in February, still lives at home, but has some memory problems. She will tell or ask the same thing several times and forgets information. My sister and I are POAs. My sister lives across the road from her and takes care of writing her checks and paying her bills and getting her groceries and checks on her often. We take turns taking her to weekly hair appointments and doctors' appointments. We started doing some weekly bathroom and kitchen cleaning this year since she did not seem to notice the need. She does still do her own laundry. We had the plumbing redone and are having the bathtub replaced with a walk-in shower with grab bars. Recently, we purchased an automatic pill dispenser since she could not keep her medicine straight and was taking too much or not taking pills on time. It really does help out. If her memory gets much worse, we may have to have in-home care or move her to assisted living. She has a bad back and is now using her walker, especially to keep from falling, since she has fallen twice this past year. Several years ago, we purchased a private phone emergency system with a necklace that, when pushed, automatically calls my sister, then a couple of cousins who live close to her, and then me (I live about seven miles away.), and then 911. We have done several things to keep her at home, but it is getting more difficult. She gave up driving after 80 and got rid of her car and turned her finances over about four years ago. She has lived alone, except for the cat, since Dad died 20 years ago. We also got her a transport chair that folds and weighs about 20 lbs. to take her places since she does not walk fast. All of these things have helped keep her at home and helped us to take care of her.
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The scan by itself does not diagnose dementia, but it can give you very helpful information, though not always. My mom's MRIs showed the extension strokes in the posterior distribution when she had them and a really shocking degree of atrophy. She developed cortical vision impairment that could have been mistaken for diabetic eye disease if we had not known about that, and the fact that she still could communicate and recognize people at all was something given how bad it looked. I think I had other evidence of how bad her vascular dementia was but it did help to actually see it on the MRI too.
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All patients are different. Ma has a terrible looking CT, 2 strokes, TIA's and a brain that has shrunk at least 25%. Sometimes she is sharp as a tack and two minutes later totally confused. She is still in her own home, cannot drive, but microwaves a good meal for herself. Walks a little shaky, can't manage her bills or meds, but everyone in the family is assigned a day to help her out, and a specific area of care. The men get to haul garbage and pay the bills, the women take her to appointments and count the pills. Take it one visit at a time.
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My mother did well on the memory tests and a neurologist told us she didn't have alzheimers. We finally took her to the alzheimers institute in Phoenix and they did a pet scan and gave us the diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia. That is when they deemed her a vunerable adult needing 24 hour supervision and the state started helping with daycare, caregivers, ect..
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My mother (86) started acting very strangely. She became unable to balance her checkbook, acted very frantic over small issues and was unable to use the remote for the TV. She was unable to pick out clothing and would fret over any financial issues. I asked her doctor to do a memory test with her and she got 27 out of 30. I told the doctor that something was really wrong even with a 27 out of 30. They did a scan and it showed that she had a series of small strokes that caused her to lose certain parts of her memory. It is very sad to watch her struggle to write a check ( she says she can do it), she is constantly worried about her finances and we spend hours trying to find something for her to wear.
She gets very confused about how to find her baseball games on the television
and is unable to remember her caregivers' names that have been with us for months. I was so upset with the doctor after the scan when he gave us the results. He told us that she had vascular dementia and she immediately started crying. It took me days to get her to see that we could handle this with notes on the calendar and working with her caregivers to help her with her short term memory issues. It is so hard to deal with watching a loving , smart mother fret over every little issue and become frantic over any change from the routine. I watch her check the calendar 100 times a day - she is so afraid that she will forget something. The stress for everyone is overwhelming. She will eat something that she has had numerous times and comment that she has never eaten this before. She will forget the name of a caregiver that she has seen for 6 months. She will ask me the same question 25 times in 2 days. It is a terrible disease and one that will wear you down - hour after hour, day after day.
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My mother (86) started acting very strangely. She became unable to balance her checkbook, acted very frantic over small issues and was unable to use the remote for the TV. She was unable to pick out clothing and would fret over any financial issues. I asked her doctor to do a memory test with her and she got 27 out of 30. I told the doctor that something was really wrong even with a 27 out of 30. They did a scan and it showed that she had a series of small strokes that caused her to lose certain parts of her memory. It is very sad to watch her struggle to write a check ( she says she can do it), she is constantly worried about her finances and we spend hours trying to find something for her to wear.
She gets very confused about how to find her baseball games on the television
and is unable to remember her caregivers' names that have been with us for months. I was so upset with the doctor after the scan when he gave us the results. He told us that she had vascular dementia and she immediately started crying. It took me days to get her to see that we could handle this with notes on the calendar and working with her caregivers to help her with her short term memory issues. It is so hard to deal with watching a loving , smart mother fret over every little issue and become frantic over any change from the routine. I watch her check the calendar 100 times a day - she is so afraid that she will forget something. The stress for everyone is overwhelming. She will eat something that she has had numerous times and comment that she has never eaten this before. She will forget the name of a caregiver that she has seen for 6 months. She will ask me the same question 25 times in 2 days. It is a terrible disease and one that will wear you down - hour after hour, day after day.
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What i can tell you is that a brain scan rules out strokes and tumors. With Alzheimer's, brain shrinkage will not show up until very late stages. What it does tell the dr. is that there is no vascular dementia, however, a neurologist can diagnose Alzheimer's 90% of the time with a brain scan and memory testing. The word Dementia is a catch all tern for all types of dementia until they can correctly diagnose it, and sometimes that can't happen until after death.
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Usually there are several tests including cognitive tests, neurological exam by geriatric specialist as well as CAT scan so they can put all the pieces together to make an assessment.

Understand that dementia diagnosis can be very broad and not "definitive" as to how your mum is or will function over time. My mom was diagnosed a year ago; put on meds, etc. and she is up and down. She is still functioning on her own and managing her own affairs for the most part. She goes thru spells where she is bad (paranoia, hallucinatory) and then she snaps back and is quite sharp for awhile. The biggest thing I notice is that her short term memory is more poor while long term memory (people, places, things, events) are amazingly sharp and accurate. This disease is awful.
The drs and neurologist and psychiatrist had my mom on several types of meds - aricept, namendin, antipsychotics and to be frank she never felt good/sharp on them. I saw no change or that any of them helped even after several months. She eventually refused to take them. She actually got "better" and was sharper without them so she continues without them. We know this is only temporary but if she feels better (she's 90) and feels more functional then I support her decision.
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A brain scan can rule out such things as strokes, tumors, etc. that might be causing dementia-like symptoms. It can also show whether there is atrophy of the brain, which would be a good sign that your mom has some type of dementia, as it would show that she is losing brain tissue and her brain is shrinking.
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