Alzheimer and Parkinson's Center
Director: I. Khelemsky, M.D.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of many dementias, in fact is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease affects about 4.5 million people in the United States only and this number tends to rise every year. Chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease dramatically increase with age, especially after age 65.
Family history is a definite risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The course of Alzheimer’s disease is usually several years, gradually destroying memory, language and other cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s disease shouldn’t be considered a part of a normal aging process.
The first and the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is short-term memory loss, followed by attention problems, disorientation, language impairment, etc.
Over the recent years, doctors and scientists have made a significant progress in understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Several drugs came on the market and have been successfully utilized. The main concept to understand for patients is that current medications for Alzheimer’s disease are not reversing dementia or even completely stopping it, but rather delaying its progress.
Psychiatric comorbidity is very common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These comorbidities are: depression, anxiety, insomnia, psychosis and some others. Therefore, treatment of any patient with Alzheimer’s disease includes addressing these comorbidities. Important aspects of the management of these patients are working with the family, addressing cultural factors of each patient, involving support groups, other medical specialists, etc.
Previously, Alzheimer’s disease was a diagnosis of exclusion, but over the past 2-3 years a considerable progress was made. Neurologists and other physicians now get more familiar with PET scan and successfully use it in their everyday practice.
Possible signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
In Alzheimer’s disease, problems with short-term memory, judgement, thought process and speed of mental processing make it difficult for patients to complete day-to-day tasks, family and social life requirements and perform their work. Of course, changes in mood and personality may contribute to this.
The earlier the diagnosis is made, the more likely the symptoms will respond to treatment. Therefore, it is very important to talk to a doctor as soon as someone thinks that himself or a family member may have Alzheimer’s disease.
A large proportion of the population of our country is afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Approximately 60,000 new Parkinson's cases are diagnosed each year. Most of the cases start at age 60 or older, but Parkinson's may have an onset in people as young as 18 years old.
Parkinson's disease is caused by premature degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells in the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra is located deep in the brain and secretes dopamine. Dopamine controls communication among brain cells and makes our movements smooth and well coordinated.
Generally, symptoms of Parkinson's disease include muscle stiffness, tremor, slowness of movements and imbalance. Usually, medications that control Parkinson's disease related symptoms are rather effective and may control the condition for many years. Eventually, the medications gradually lose their effectiveness. This is when Parkinson's patients become significantly disabled. Researchers all around the world work on basic science and clinical aspects of Parkinson's disease. Hopefully, in the future, we will have better, more effective treatments.
All Neurological Services, P.C.