March 2, 2016
If you know and have spent time with someone in one of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, you know all too well the telltale signs: forgetfulness, confusion, and disorientation. What you may not realize, however, is that there are a variety of ailments with these very same symptoms – except that these conditions are easily treatable. If these symptoms are present in your senior loved one, check with his or her doctor to see if one of the following conditions could be to blame:
- Urinary tract infections. UTIs are very common in the elderly, and often display differently than in younger patients, through delirium, confusion, agitation, or even hallucinations. A simple course of antibiotics, fluids, and rest can completely reverse these symptoms.
- Thyroid disease. Thyroid-related symptoms can include forgetfulness, anxiety, depression, and lethargy – and it’s estimated that as many as 15 million adults (most over age 50) are currently undiagnosed. A blood test and medications may be all that are needed.
- Vitamin deficiency. In particular, insufficient levels of vitamin B-12 can result in confusion, irritability, forgetfulness, and other symptoms that imitate dementia. Sometimes in aging, the body becomes unable to absorb B-12, resulting in a condition known as pernicious anemia. The problem is often correctable through monthly injections or oral supplements.
- Alcohol abuse. According to Majid Fotuhi, founder of NeurExpand Brain Center, “Alcohol abuse, even binge drinking for a short time when you’re young, destroys brain cells in areas critical for memory, thinking, decision making and balance,” and can lead to a chronic memory disorder later in life. This condition can sometimes be reversed, however, through thiamine replacement therapy.
Explore more dementia-mimicking conditions and their treatment options from AARP.
We also welcome you to call on Continuum for trusted St. Louis Alzheimer’s care that makes life easier for seniors and the families who care for them, regardless of whether they’re struggling with the challenges of dementia or Alzheimer’s, or simply need a little extra assistance with housework, meal preparation, transportation, or personal care. We’re just a phone call away at 314-863-9912, or complete our simple online contact form with your questions or to schedule a free in-home consultation.