Author Archive

Driving and Alzheimer's Disease

The caregivers of my patients frequently ask me about the safety of their loved ones getting behind the wheel after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This is a sensitive topic for patients, but a very important one in terms of both safety and liability, as I will discuss here.

First, my own research has recently revealed that driving in moderate and late stage AD is a much larger problem than we first feared, and this is not attributable merely to aging. In fact, we have seen that 16 year old males have a higher incidence of accidents than healthy non-demented individuals over the age of 75. However, in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and the early stages of AD, we do not see increased accident rates. But as early AD progresses into moderate AD accident rates rise sharply. Read More

"There's Nothing Wrong With Me!" Caring For Loved Ones Unaware Of Their Problem

Anosognosia is a term used to describe a person who is unaware of or denies the existence of their condition or problem. Some researchers estimate 20% of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients suffer from Anosognosia. My own research puts this estimate closer to 50%.

If you have a loved one suffering with Anosognosia you are probably very familiar with this concept, even if you didn’t know the medical term for it. AD patients with Anosognosia will argue with you if you point out deficits in memory or basic functioning. They tend to believe that they can function normally – still manage the finances, for example, when it is apparent to you that their cognitive deficits impair this ability. Read More

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, has become better understood in recent years. It is broadly considered to be a transitional stage between normal, age-related cognitive changes and dementia. We have learned some key things about individuals with MCI that are very important to understand for long term quality of life. Believe it or not, if you have received a diagnosis of MCI, this is actually very good news. It means that you are one of the few people who have been brave enough to get yourself tested for memory concerns. And because of this, you have learned at the earliest possible stage of some potential future problems. It’s great news because at this stage we have a lot of options for treating you and others like you.

As a physician, I can tell you that almost 8% of people diagnosed with MCI convert to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) within 1 year. However, 20% of people diagnosed with MCI revert to normal memory within 1 year. So a diagnosis of MCI is not a cause for panic so much as it is a call to action. Read More

Is Forgetting The New Normal?

I ran across an article from Time Magazine from 2008, which is packed with great information.  It’s a wonderful overview on how memory is stored, why we forget and what we can do to help our brains function better.

The article cites several studies showing the positive impact of regular aerobic exercise on increasing cerebral blood volume (CBV), as well as some excellent nutrition sources for brain health like blueberries and walnuts. Read More