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Ask Dr. Gott 2/4
Looker deeper for cause of memory loss
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: My wife, who is 68 years old, is having short-term memory loss.
    She has had a CT scan and MRI of the brain. No abnormalities were detected. She has seen a neurologist and a clinical psychologist. Both diagnosed her with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
    The neurological appointment lasted only 30 to 45 minutes. The physician asked some personal-history questions and then did a short test of her memory. The appointment with the clinical psychologist lasted nearly 2-1/2 hours. She was again asked about personal history and several detailed questions to check her memory.
    I would like to know if this is the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. Why wouldn’t the MRI show some sign of abnormality? Following diagnosis, she was put on the medication Aricept. Thank you for any information you can give.
    DEAR READER: Memory loss may reflect early dementia, including Alzheimer’s, for which there is no specific testing.
    Your wife has had appropriate screening for brain cancer, stroke and normal pressure hydrocephalus. However, she still needs further diagnostic work-up that would include vitamin levels and a blood test for thyroid deficiency. These causes for dementia are curable, so the tests are mandatory in this situation. Also, Parkinson’s disease can lead to dementia in up to one-third of all cases later in the disease. This symptom is highly controversial. Some experts say it is a symptom of late-stage Parkinson’s, while others claim it is not associated with Parkinson’s and occurs coincidentally. Her neurologist should follow her closely, especially if her dementia worsens or she develops depression, tremors or other abnormalities.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Alzheimer’s Disease” and “Parkinson’s Disease.”

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 83 years old and need to increase my strength in order to complete my work. Can you help me? I will appreciate any information you can give me.
    DEAR READER: As we age, we become weaker. This can be frustrating. Find a fitness center and begin a program to strengthen your muscles. Most centers have trainers to help guide clients.
    Start with low-impact exercises such as water aerobics, which provides resistance and strengthening. In addition, the water reduces wear on the joints. It is also important to know your limits and not push too hard. Injuries can occur easily as we age.
    Because you do not say what type of work you do, I cannot be more specific in my advice. Start with the basics, get help from a trainer, and work your way up to more difficult exercises and machines.
    As I always say, aging is not for sissies. Good luck.
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