Should I have and elderly person with dementia tested, to find the cause?


My husbands 84 yr old grandmother now has dementia. From what I'm reading, there is no cure and not much hope of slowing it down. Her doc has already prescribed meds for the anxiety/ocd and for the "daytime agitation" to control some of the symptoms and make it easier for us. He has suggested maybe having a CAT scan done to see if it is from mini stokes. If nothing more can be done than to manage the symptoms, am I wrong to not want to put her thru all of the testing? My only concern is that every once in a blue moon, she's lucid for a brief hour or so. Is this common at all with typical vascular dementia or should I be concerned that something else is medically causing the dementia? I don't want to put her through the confusion and expense of needless testing but also don't want to find out later that something else was causing it and we might have caught it in time to do something about it. Any advice on what to do?

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Giles167 - I'm going to disagree with many of the posts and say Absolutely do some tests. There are MANY causes of dementia and some of them (like low thyroid or vitamin deficiency) are easily treatable. Even if it is Alzheimer's or Lewy Body Dementia, the treatments vary. The drugs for one can make the other worse. While doctor's often can't say the cause with 100% certainty, they can rule others out.

And some of the drugs DO help. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers and has been on Aricept and Namenda since December. Not only has her behavior stopped declining in some areas, it has actually improved in others. In my case, Mom had stopped reading and is now doing it again. I don't know how much she is understanding, but she enjoys picking up her books again.

This is what we went through with Mom's testing. Her doctor's are very compassionate and understanding if she got upset. I strongly suggest working with geriatric specialists:
1. Memory test
2. Blood tests (this ruled out many possible causes, including tyroid and B12 deficiency)
3. CAT scan
4. Follow up doctor visits to discuss results
5. Visit to geriatric psychiatrist to evaluate all results and make diagnosis and get medications prescribed
6. Follow up visits every 3 months

Except for the CAT scan, none of it was invasive. Sometimes the questions may be upsetting. My mom didn't like not knowing the answers, but she was always over it by the next day.
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Netflix you are singing my song! I probably sound like a broken record in this forum, but I am a BIG fan of naturopathic remedies. "Holistic" is such a good takes into consideration the whole being: body, mind, and spirit. My pesonal experiences and those of my family members have proven that they work and have few side effects. It is challenging to find a naturopath, mostly because Western medicine does its best to squelch the movement.
Here are a few of my experiences:
I had excruciating pain along my gum line after oral surgery. My docs just shrugged their shoulders and said they couldn't see anything wrong. (docs don't do well with "pain" ...they think it is all in your head) I went to my nat. pharmacy, was given a nerve pain reliever. In 2 or 3 doses the pain was gone!
My mother has hairline fractures in her ribs. He doc gave her a strong pain med which had limited effect. Nat. gave her an herbal supplement which took away the pain. I am sure the two work together, but at least she is pain free now.
My neighbor is miserable every fall and spring with severe allergies. Docs put him through extensive tests, gave him shots, wanted him to take steriods!! Nat. gave him a supplement. After one week, he is less congested and able to be outdoors without choking.
As with anything you put into your body, you have to be cautious...even with natural remedies. But I have better result with natural remedies than with OTC drugs or an Rx. Lately, I noticed that my trips to my docs have decreased and my health has improved. Another thing I like about naturopathic docs is that they LISTEN. Mine had an extensive questionaire, talked with me for about an hour, and made solid recommendations that have worked! Shouldn't this be the standard for all docs?

Back to the subject at hand: it is rarely wise to subject seniors to invasive testing - especially for Alz/Dementia because it is such a subjective diagnosis. We need to look at nutrition, vitamin deficiencies, drug interactions, and mental/emotional/social isolation before we start haphazardly diagnosing alz.
just my 5 cents...Lilli
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Just my opinion, but at age 84 having a CAT scan is a little much. There are MANY causes of dementia, but you won't find that information asking doctors. They just prescribe prescriptions with many side effects without really looking for a cause. If you Google around and search through alternative therapies (holictic) and natural cures you will find alot. Many times dementia is caused by low Vitamin B12 because the elderly just cannot absorb B12 through the stomach anymore. Buying supplements that dissolve under the tongue can help. You are better off giving her supplements that at at least 5 MG per tablet and up to 4-5 tablets a few times a day. The daily requirements are in the MCG which is just not enough. There is no toxic effect of B12. If you can find a doctor with brains they can test her B12 levels and can give her B12 injections. But most doctors are not concerned about vitamins, though they should be.

Overgrowth of Candida Albicans also can cause dementia. If she has used antibiotics without supplementing with probiotics she could have Candida overgrowth.

There is a product called Candex made by Pure Essence that we use from My husband has responded very well using this product. We also purchase our B12 from there. The best one is Source Naturals Advanced B12 Complex because it has Folic acid also which is needed for better absorption. He takes 5 tablets under tongue twice a day. B12 needs to be the natural methylcobalamin form for better absorption.

There are so many causes of dementia that I cannot even begin to discuss. The more you research the more you learn, but you must research alternative, natural methods. HOLISTIC METHODS. Mainstream medicine just does not include vitamins and minerals.

This is just my observations, you have to do your own research and make your own decisions. Good Luck!
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At 84 the cause of dementia is not as important as her doctors willingness to adjust her meds to give her the best quality of life possible. Conducting the tests could be too hard on her. Testing her family members on the other hand might be a good idea. Some forms of dementia are hereditary so knowing whether your husband, his siblings or your children are predisposed to the same dementia could mean earlier treatment and better quality of life for grandma's descendants.
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well if im 87 yrs old , oh plz doc leave me alone . dad s doesnt like to be poked at , blood work etc . he always tells me im ok ill get better . the brain cells are dying off , there is no magic pill to prevent it . body wise yeah i take him to dr and get that taken care of , for the mental state of mind , i dontthink anything can help that .
my dad went to behavior place to get him stop hollarin 24-7 . like his mind is stuck . he came home worst shape and those meds they had him on was killing him , i quit givin him those new 3 meds. and exalon patch . now he s better .
dementia and alz we know its gonna get worst till the lord comes and takes em.
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I don't think I shall, but I do think we need to start w/a new doctor. I am quite displeased with the group she is seeing. She is always running short, they change the dosage, then the next time it is higher or lower than it was. It is just hard to know what is really going on.
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Report careful if you decide to take her off the drugs...I let my mom slide and boy oh boy did I pay for it and had to work hard to get the meds working again. So becareful, you may be very surprised once the meds have worn off and see what a mess you really have. I will never let mine off her meds way. I am still trying to recover from that to getting her more manageable again.
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The testing that was conducted on my mother as a dementia patient is completely different from what you are describing. Sessions with a geriatric psychiatrist are to determine what processes have been lost due to disease. There is no "intense sessions" but rather cognitive testing. Again, it can be very distressing to a patient who has lost their cognitive abilities. They don't understand the questions, don't remember the answer etc. It was exhausting and upsetting for Mom to take part in the testing.
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As an addendum, I wanted to let you know I decided to get off the Ambien and go bikeriding at night instead. That nasty little pill had me doing a Whitney Houston these past couple of days and I was carrying several conversations with family and friends and expecting them to connect the dots. They all thought I was high on something. That thin membrane between reality and fantasy became so blurred (watching the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest last Friday made things worse), I can't recall most of the things I said and did. Anyway, it'll come back to me eventually -- to bite me in the a ____.

So I'll sign off for now. Good night y'all.

-- ED
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I'd say yes. No offense, but every now and then I hear someone say that Puerto Ricans are crazy every time they fly off the handle. Since I'm Brazilian-Puerto Rican, then I must be double crazy and need to be "contained" since there's no cure for my cultural disease. Could you imagine that?

Anyway, let me stop the comedy because this is a serious issue. I made several appointments with my shrink to ascertain the severity of my craziness. After he helped me rewind the tape of my existence, according to him everything that's gone -- and going -- wrong with my life is because of something my mother did to me between the ages of 1 and 3 1/2. All my stress and anger, therefore due to all that pent up resentment I harbor against her and that I take out on people and things.

All in all, this fishing expedition at least gave me some insight into the deepest recesses of my mind, particularly repressed memories, and helped me understand myself a lot better. I also took with me some coping strategies so I can interact well with others, keep my marbles in one place, avoid jail, and dispel the notion one of this days I'd come out of my house in a straight jacket bound for Creedmoor.

After six intense sessions, my psychiatrist had to see his own shrink. I was so happy!

So go ahead girl. Have her tested so you can be well prepared to handle what's to come. Wish you the best.

Always at your service,

-- Cecil B. DeMented
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