Alzheimer's or Something Else?

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Many people believe that forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer's, but the truth is that a decline in cognitive function is part of normal aging. (KFSN)

Many people believe that forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer's, but the truth is that a decline in cognitive function is part of normal aging. Especially for adults ages 50 to 65, if you think it is Alzheimer's disease, we will explain why it's probably not.

"It was terrible to watch him deteriorate before our eyes," said Mary Mehl.

Mary's husband, Joe, was declining mentally and physically.

Joe was in his mid-60s and Mary feared that she was losing him to Alzheimer's. But a trip to the doctor proved it to be something else. Joe had normal pressure hydrocephalus or NPH, a completely reversible condition.

Joe is not the only one who fears that they are in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. Doctors say they are seeing a rise in patients worried about their memory lapses and fear that it is Alzheimer's. Most of the time it is not. But if it's not Alzheimer's, what is it?

"Many different disorders can cause balance problems and dementia-like illnesses," said Nestor Tomycz, MD, a Neurosurgeon at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Some of the disorders can include NPH, adult ADD, sleep disorders, substance abuse and simply brain fog. If you are worried about memory loss, Dr. Tomycz told said,"See your primary care doctor and to check some basic, basic labs and to investigate it that way. But, if the symptoms aren't improving, a neurologist should be involved."

A recent study by St. Michael's hospital in Toronto found that in autopsies of 116 patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's, over 10 percent of them did not have Alzheimer's. Other conditions or diseases were causing their dementia-like symptoms.
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