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A dementia mimic
Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2022 3:53 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18369


I always encourage new members to have a thorough diagnostic evaluation to search for dementia mimics, before accepting a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.  For years, I have known that I don't have AD. I wondered why I still had significant memory loss, poor executive functioning and apathy.  I have a diagnosis of systemic lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome and hypertension, all of which can contribute to cognitive symptoms.  

 

But a significant contributor is a condition that is mostly invisible, and that is SLEEP APNEA.  Due to bureauocratic, pandemic-related and other reasons, I had no treatment for sleep apnea for several years.  I have resumed treatment a month ago, and I have noticed improvement in my functioning.  The severe apathy, which I referred to as the "don't want to's", is decreased.  I can get up in the mornings and actually DO tasks and ACCOMPLISH goals.  I feel better.  Not cured, and certainly not normal.  

 

It may be too late for a great deal of improvement.  But I am satisfied with a little bit of improvement.  Because my life had come virtually to a standstill in these past months.  I was in a deep crisis, close to a catastrophe.  No one knew, and no help was forthcoming.  My only help has been resuming my CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is almost never considered as a dementia mimic.  But I have a neurologist who did have me evaluated for sleep apnea.  I had to follow up myself because his office did not call me with the results of the overnight sleep study at the hospital sleep lab.  Plus, Covid got in the way.  But finally, I am getting treatment! 

 

Well, this is all.  My recommendation is to check yourself for sleep apnea.  Discuss with your neurologist about obtaining a proper sleep study.  Treatment is available and may bring some degree of improvement.

 

Iris


Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022 2:16 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4384


GGreat news. I may call you in two weeks as I am leaving for a business trip next week. Going to Denver Colorado
Iris L.
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022 2:17 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18369


Safe travels, Michael!

Iris


zauberflote
Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2022 10:23 AM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1575


Iris, I am very pleased to hear this! Your news brought a smile to my heart!

And Michael, safe travels, and I hope it will be a productive trip with some fun in it too!


SusanB-dil
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2022 10:57 AM
Joined: 9/10/2021
Posts: 485


Oh, Iris - Thank you for posting that!  and SO glad it is helping you.

I've often wondered about DH not using his CPAP, and sometimes just 'weird' issues he has. I contributed it to a statin for a heart issue he had a couple years ago.  his doc told him 'that was a myth'.  I told him, no, it is not.  But now with the sleep apnea on top of it.... hmmm!!!


Iris L.
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2022 6:28 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18369


Thank you, zauberflote.  I hope you are doing well!

 

Susan, like your doctor, I was surprised by the possible complications of untreated sleep apnea.  I thought sleep apnea was an annoyance, but not a real danger.  But it is!  My MRI shows changes, which have progressed over the two decades that I complained of memory loss.  Are those changes due to lack of oxygen in the brain from sleep apnea or due to something else?  Is my hypertension related to long untreated sleep apnea?  Doctors only recently began looking at sleep apnea as a serious disease.  It is not always accompanied by snoring, especially in women.  So who knows how many undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea patients there are?

 

Also, the treatment is problematic.  My first mask was very uncomfortable and I skipped many nights.  My latest mask is comfortable because I can better adjust the fit, and I am using it every night.  Nevertheless, I doubt that a PWD would be able to manipulate the mask enough to get it to be comfortabe and wearable every night.

 

Statins, like other medications, may cause cognitive side effects.  A person just has to check it out.  Of course, the cardiovascular problem that the statin was prescribed for, also is a cause of vascular dementia.  So there are a multitude of issues to be concerned with and to address.  All the while understanding that true dementia is progressive; one can only hope to possibly slow it down a bit and to keep the PWD comfortable.

 

Iris


SusanB-dil
Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2022 7:20 AM
Joined: 9/10/2021
Posts: 485


Wow - thank you very much - good information to know.

We are caring for his mom.  But... sometimes I see weird issues with DH.  And yes, he also has trouble wearing his mask.  I told him to go back to doc to see what they could do.  Since that was a few years ago, maybe he can get a mask that is more comfortable for him.  I can tell him that I have it on 'good word' that there are more comfortable masks!!  thank you!  

and yes again with the Vascular Dementia - with his mom.  She has Alz and Vasc.  So... we do wonder if it runs in families.  Wonder if he already have issues because of his cholesterol level, hence the statins (and his heart).  Ugghh.  He does pretty well cognitively, but guess time will tell. I agree - that anything we can do to avoid 'this', would be worthwhile.


Iris L.
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2022 12:16 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18369


Susan, I do believe that cardiovascular issues, vascular dementia and Alzheimer's Disease run in families, although it is not always a straight line from a grandparent to parent to child.  We (all of us) have to work on whatever we can do to ameliorate what we can, such as controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol and so forth.  

 

I am working with a medical appliance company that helped me with the mask.  Your DH needs to go in to the office or better yet, if possible considering Covid, request a home visit to help him with his mask and compliance.  He can also ask about the use of a dental appliance for the treatment of sleep apnea.  I may look into this myself, because the idea of using a mask and CPAP for the rest of my life is not appealing.  It's not horrendous, because there are worse problems, just not appealing.  

 

It's very important, and I might even say it is vital, to get good sleep!  There are too many bad results from poor sleep.  Good sleep is underrated by the public and by doctors.  This is a huge, underappreciated issue.

 

Best wishes to you and your DH and MIL.

 

Iris


SusanB-dil
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2022 7:44 AM
Joined: 9/10/2021
Posts: 485


Thank you again.  Much appreciated.

Will 'attempt' to get him to listen.  He can be stubborn where docs are concerned.  I know - not unusual...

Agree - good sleep is important.


KawKaw
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2022 6:00 PM
Joined: 11/22/2019
Posts: 399


A most excellent reminder, Iris L.  Thank you.

I know I sometimes reach for easy answers so that I might make sense of my world.

Yet, things are often not as they seem.  So vigilance is good advice.


Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2022 6:07 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18369


It's nice to see you again.  How are you doing?

Iris


oehlsena
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2022 5:52 PM
Joined: 5/21/2022
Posts: 44


Oddly enough, before I got the chance to reference this at my caregiving support group yesterday, it was brought up how INSOMNIA can be an Alzheimers mimic. I got to share this with them, also.
 
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