April 4, 2014 by Dean Bellefeuille

Facing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one brings up a myriad of questions: Is it really Alzheimer’s, or could it be dementia? What causes Alzheimer’s? What treatment options are there? And how is it diagnosed, anyway? With our extensive experience in caring for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, At Home Independent Living has compiled answers to some of the most common questions we receive:

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. However, chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, diet, exercise, and social engagement may play a role in whether or not a person develops Alzheimer’s.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

  • Dementia is the symptom and Alzheimer’s is the cause of the symptom. In other words, one can have dementia without it being Alzheimer’s disease, such as the dementia associated with a head injury, Parkinson’s, a stroke or vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia or Lewy body disease. Some causes of dementia may be reversible, but most are degenerative and will worsen over time.

How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

  • Currently, only an autopsy can definitively confirm the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. However, physicians can correctly diagnose Alzheimer’s disease about 90 percent of the time based on mental and behavioral symptoms, a physical examination, blood tests, urinalysis and neuropsychological tests.

Are there treatments available for Alzheimer’s disease?

  • There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications that can help to control some symptoms such as depression, aggression or hallucinations. Some medications, however, may react badly with other Alzheimer’s medicines as well as worsen other symptoms of the disease. It is important to discuss the best medications and plan of care with your or your loved one’s doctor. Additionally, many Alzheimer’s symptoms are caused by non-medical triggers which can often be managed without the use of medications. If the trigger can be identified, the environment can be modified to change the behavior.

Taking care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming. At Home Independent Living’s specially trained and caring staff offer a wide range of options to help you, including much needed respite care to allow you time to recharge and to focus on spending quality time with your loved one, leaving the more mundane tasks to us. We’re helping a number of families navigate the path of Alzheimer’s in Onondaga, Cortland, Oswego, Madison, Cayuga and Seneca counties, and would love to help you too. Contact us, the dementia care Syracuse NY experts, online or give us a call us at 315-579-(HOME) 4663 for more information.