Is It Ordinary Memory Loss, or Alzheimer’s Disease?

Fears about memory issues, commonplace among those of us who often misplace our cell phones and mix up the names of our children, are likely to skyrocket as Baby Boomers move into their 70s, 80s and beyond. Many may be unwilling to wait to have their memories tested until symptoms develop that could herald encroaching dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, like finding one’s glasses in the refrigerator, getting lost on a familiar route or being unable to follow directions or normal conversation. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, more than half of older adults with signs of memory loss never see a doctor about it. Although there is still no certain way to prevent or forestall age-related cognitive disease, knowing that someone has serious memory problems can alert family members and friends to a need for changes in the person’s living arrangements that can be health- or even lifesaving. “Early evaluation and identification of people with dementia may help them receive care earlier,” said Dr. Vikas Kotagal, the senior author of the Michigan study. “It can help families make plans for care, help with day-to-day tasks, including medication administration, and watch for future problems that can occur.” Long the most popular screening test for memory disorders used by primary care doctors is the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), an eight-minute test in use since 1975. But neurologists say it is less discerning than the slightly longer Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA, introduced in 1996.

Source/more: New York Times

David Wingate is an elder law and estate planning attorney in Frederick and Montgomery, Counties, Maryland. The law practice consists of wills, power of attorneys, trusts, Medicaid and asset protection.

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