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Not one answer out there?
I don’t know an answer. I can say that DH had the regular scan, which showed significant brain atrophy. It was most helpful in convincing family members that he did indeed have a problem, since he was a master at “showtime” for those who only saw him for brief periods, and he avoided longer get-together or more serious conversation.
The docs who spent time with him felt sure it was AD, but the scans helped with others who said, “oh we all forget stuff sometimes.”
It is my understanding that early on MRI's are used to check the structure of the brain and to rule out any other cause of the symptoms, for example brain tumors, etc.
Aricept and Namenda may work or may not work for some people. If they do they may slow down the symptoms but they cannot stop the disease. Unfortunately nothing stops this disease.
Hang in there Eli, this is a long and winding road. You have found a great resource for information and support on these boards.
The neurologist insisted that Mom have another MRI a few months ago though she had already one in March. (They weren't happy with the contrast.)
All both of them showed was that she has suffered multiple (at least 3) mini-strokes with one of them being more recent than the previous. (If I had to, I could probably pinpoint the date in January when THAT one occurred … and no one would listen to me because she was still walking and talking afterward.)
As was already said, the one thing it DID do was to rule out a brain tumor or some kind of brain injury. Oh, and it showed it's shrinking. Really? No sh*t, Sherlock, and I got no letters after my name. It's probably the only time in my life when I was disappointed that something wasn't a tumor or cancer. At least that's treatable. Possibly not survivable, but treatable.
eli47, I can hear the significant upset in your online "voice." I am sorry for what is happening, this is a very difficult set of circumstances and it can be very stressful. This is also probably a situation in which it would be a good idea to contact the Alzheimer's Assn. 24 Hour Helpline at (800) 272-3900.
If you call, ask to be transferred to a Care Consultant. There are no fees for this service. Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family dynamics. They are good listeners, very supportive, have much information and can often help us with our problem solving. You will get one on one contact in real time and can ask questions and discuss what is happening.
Basically, an MRI is used for a couple of reasons; mostly to rule out problems within the brain such as tumors, vessel issues, signs of past or present stroke, etc. It can show enlarged ventricles, and shrinkage of the brain, and other such issues; but it is often not going to be able to show frank dementia or specifically which type of dementia.
My mother had multiple MRIs but they did not show dementia; it did show old small TIAs, and very slightly enlarged ventricles and were not diagnostic of anything; BUT they did rule out other issues over time.
The best way to get an accurate diagnosis for dementia AND for type of dementia is to see a good dementia specialist. In the beginning, I have found this best done with a good Neurologist who sees dementia patients as a routine part of his/her practice. An accurate diagnosis for type of dementia is important as meds for one type can can be contrainicated in another and make things even worse. This happened with my mother who initially was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease by her Geriatrician and placed on meds. Things got worse, I got her to a Neurologist and after his exam and assessment it was found she actually had a behavioral Variant of FrontoTemporal Dementia and was on contraindicated meds which ramped things up.
Just as an aside, when our Loved Ones, (LOs), have a "silent" urinary tract infection, behaviors, and even cognition and function can be affected. These UTIs are called, "silent," because there will be no signs of pain or burning, but behaviors become much more difficult; sometimes dramatically so. This is one of those things most of us have checked when things slide sideways.
By the way, my LO had a SPECT Scan later, and it showed the FTD big time when the MRI did not.
There is time to get this all in order, and perhaps it would be helpful if you attended the next specialist appointment with your parents if you can manage that so you can hear what is actually being said. I found that very helpful and in fact, necessary as my mother was so resistant to care and my step-dad was pretty much lost at sea; that is an understatement. You live about four and half hours from your parents, so that makes such visits as little difficult, but perhaps if one visit for an appointment can be managed when your mother is willing to go back to her specialist, that may be helpful.
Sometimes there is absolutely nothing we can really do and we must wait for the next shoe to drop and eventually it does; then the issues can be better addressed. This is what happened with my mother. It was not at all easy for me to experience, but all attempts to assist were to no avail until time moved on and the situation progressed.
By the way, you will get more input here on the open Forums than trying to do things privately. If you do want private contact, you can use this Message Board's "Connections" to privately connect with another Member; you will find this option at the top of the page. In this way, one communicates privately without divulging private numbers or private emails which keeps the risk for mischief down.