How are you sure it's Dementia??

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I know this is a very complex question, but my last question was asking to help make sure my mom takes meds. at right time, and not double up. However a lot of the feedback was directed towards her having dementia. Of course I know this could be true because about 4 years ago her fill in doc. (therapist) informed me she had early onset of dementia. Guess I didn't want to believe it. So this is where all the memory issues are stemming from? I thought just aging was having that affect. I'm also concerned it could be Parkinson's Disease because about 8-10 years ago her neurologist said she had early onset of that. Could she really have both? I lean towards PD because she has a lot of mobility issues lately. Like falling twice in 3 months. Thanks so much for the feedback, and I think Its time to take mom back to a neurologist. She has the best one in our town so I lean with what his findings were. Any one know what I should be looking for in her to distinguish between the two diseases? Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments, and advice on the medication boxes. I think it's a great idea that will help not to double up.Enjoy your sunday, and truly appreciate all the caring comments, that help me out So much:)

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My mom had vascular dementia and secondary parkinsonism, which responded really well to Sinemet. A good geriatric neuro guy at the Benedum center in Pittsburgh PA got that started for her, while the primary doc missed the boat entirely and the nurses interpreted her retropulsion as resisting help...not that she never resisted help, but that was not it! She did not have the hallucination typical for Lewy Body dementia per se. So, its not simple and distinct...

And my dad had fronto-temporal dementia. And yes, I also did not want to believe that dementia was happening to my parents. No one does! Dementia of any variety truly, truly, sucks.
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You can easily have both Parkinson's and another Dementia. In any event, from your description, and from the results of previous doctor's visits, it's not just "normal" aging.

The good news is that you don't need to figure it out. Your job is to keep a log of her behaviors for a few days so that when you accompany her to the neurology visit and she says all is fine, you have given him/her this written report of your observations, and the doctor knows otherwise.

My mother in law was diagnosed with dementia, chose to ignore it and instructed her sons to forget they'd ever heard that word. Denial can be a very powerful force in some families.

I believe that it's much better to find out what the treatment options are, if there are clinical trials available and make adjustments to one's living situation to maximize quality of life.
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Kellyb, in your own words, "I think Its time to take mom back to a neurologist." Maybe the one Mom has seen before would be a great starting place. And perhaps after a diagnosis there you might ask for a referral to a specialist in that disease.

You mom is young to be displaying dementia symptoms. But early onset does start early and it is a distinct possibility. It is also possible to develop more than one chronic illness, or more than one type of dementia. Specialists are the best route to determining the most likely possibilities.

The type of illness that combines both Parkinsonisms and dementia symptoms is called Lewy Body Dementia. Sometimes the Parkinson's comes first, and sometimes the dementia symptoms display first but in either case the cause is "bodies" of a specific protein in the brain. The Lewy Body Dementia Association website (LBDA.org) has very helpful information about detecting that disease.

My heart goes out to you and to Mom. She is very lucky to have you committed to her welfare.

Please keep us informed about how this works out. We care, and we learn from each other.
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Parkinson's can cause dementia. Here's more info on it from the Alzheimer's Association. If they strip out the link, Google "Alzheimers + Parkinsons":

http://www.alz.org/dementia/parkinsons-disease-symptoms.asp
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That's a great referral FeelingLost. It's always best to see professionals who really know dementia.
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Find out if there's anything like Florida's network of centers for memory disorders within range of you. They have been totally worth driving over an hour for in dealing with my dad. A very thorough evaluation process covering memory, cognitive function, brain MRI, neuropsychological testing and any other issues uncovered in the process (balance & hearing in this case). We go tomorrow for the last of 4 appointments, results from all the testing and diagnosis/referrals for the next steps.

The program social worker was a huge help to me in getting dad moved into assisted living, which happened in the middle of the evaluation process (timing dictated by an apartment coming open in our first choice community).

To me the difference between regular doctors, even good regular doctors, and these specialists is that these docs have seen thousands of patients with the whole spectrum of age-related physical and mental issues. So for example while regular doc's impression is that dad's mental function is pretty good, the program doc immediately recognized that there's problems.
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I think people are diagnosed in different ways. Often the primary care doctor can conduct an in office evaluation for dementia. First they will rule out UTI, medication complications, etc. They will ask the patient questions about their history, their life, where they are, dates, etc. ALSO of importance is for the doctor to know what is going on at home. When I went with my loved one, I took a detailed letter that explained all the behavior, such as repeated things over and over with no memory that she had just said something, no longer able to pay bills, couldn't operate tv anymore, couldn't figure out how to get out of her care, paranoid her cat could escape from house through a 1 inch crevice, anxiety ridden, refuses to bathe, lies and says she has bathed, repeated falls and fractures, can't operate AC thermostat, etc. With this in hand, the doctor can usually figure it out.

My cousin had multiple falls and fractures prior to and at the time of her diagnosis, but she does not have Parkinson's. I think that balance issues and falls are common with other types of dementia too.

AND the primary doctor may refer her to a neurologist for further test. They will likely order MRI and Neuropsycholgocial evaluaiton that is a lengthy test administered by another professional. The neurologist will use this in making his prognosis. They are different reasons people get dementia. It could be from Alzheimers, Vascular, Lewy Body, etc. I think it also can come with Parkinson's, but I am not familiar with that type of dementia.

You say your mom has already been diagnosed with dementia and Parkinson's. I would definitely follow up with the doctors who diagnosed her initially. I think there is medication for Parkinson's. Was your mom on that medication? I don't have any information about that disease, but I bet others here do. I bet you will receive a response about it.
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