InfoLine's Most Commonly Asked Questions

 

InfoLine's Most Commonly Asked Questions

 

By Bethany Sampson, Volunteer Coordinator

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The Alzheimer InfoLine is a service for:

  • Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia
  • Caregivers/Partners in Care/Carers
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health Care Providers

We are here to help. A team of knowledgeable and caring staff provides information about:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia
  • Maintaining brain health
  • Getting a diagnosis
  • Planning for the future
  • Maintaining Independence
  • Tips and strategies for caregiving
  • Links or referrals to resources in your community
  • Free information and brochures

We spoke with Kaija Whittam, Coordinator, Client Services at ASNS, about the most frequently asked InfoLine questions. Using material available on www.alzheimer.ca, we complied answers to these FAQs. 

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

Dementia is not one specific disease. It is a combination of symptoms that has many different causes, including Alzheimer’s disease. Though Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia, it is not the only cause.

Other causes that may contribute to dementia:

·        Vascular changes in the brain

·        Parkinson’s disease

·        Lewy Body disease

·        Vitamin deficiencies

·        Thyroid gland problems

·        Chronic brain infections

·        Medications

Someone can have dementia without necessarily having Alzheimer’s disease. This is something your doctor will establish. Some causes of dementia, such as infection, medication reactions, an underactive thyroid gland, or vitamin deficiency can be reversible with proper treatment. Receiving a proper diagnosis is important in establishing the cause and treatment plan. 

How do I get a diagnosis?

Making the diagnosis can be a timely process. Diagnoses can be made by a family doctor or a specialist. You made be referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, geriatrician, nurse, social worker, or occupational therapist. These doctors will look for problems with your memory, reasoning ability, language and judgment, and how these affect day-to-day function.

The diagnosis process involves:

Medical history, mental status exam, physical exam, laboratory test, and psychiatric and psychological evaluations. In addition, a doctor may recommend a CT (computerized tomography scan), an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a SPECT (a single protein emission computed tomography), or a PET (positive electron tomography).

Here are some questions you will likely hear at your assessment:

  • What symptoms have been noticed?
  • When did they first appear?
  • How have the symptoms changed over time?
  • What other medical conditions exist?
  • What medications are currently being taken (both prescription and over-the-counter)?
  •  What herbal remedies and/or dietary supplements are currently being taken?
  • Is there a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or psychiatric conditions?

Once my family member has a diagnosis, what are the next steps?

  • Recognize that you are going through a variety of emotions
  • Learn about the disease
  • Recognize that the disease affect’s a person’s abilities
  • Don’t lose sight of the person
  • Explore treatment options
  • Recognize that caregiving can take its toll
  • Seek help
  • Develop a support network
  • Plan for the future

If you or your family are in need of help, call our strictly confidential, toll-free InfoLine: 1-800-611-6345 or email [email protected].


Last Updated: 10/17/2018