Alzheimer's Question 2 -- Is it Alzheimer's or something else?



Q. Many people assume that if an older person becomes forgetful and can no longer deal with some of the basic activities of daily living, he or she must have Alzheimer’s disease. A sad case in point: My father’s internist diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease last year (my father was then 80) and prescribed medication that didn’t seem to help at all. It wasn’t until I took my father to a neurologist that we learned he actually had a benign brain tumor that was affecting his memory and behavior. With that as a backdrop, what are some other brain diseases that may be mistaken for Alzheimer’s?

Also see Most Early-Onset Dementia Not Alzheimer's and Eight Types of Dementia Defined

Source Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Questions About Alzheimer's Disease

A. Dementia, the diminution of multiple cognitive abilities occurring in normal alertness, can be caused by numerous factors. These include space-occupying brain lesions (tumors, collections of blood called subdural hematomas, and abscesses); infection (meningitis, encephalitis, syphilis, to name a few); impaired cerebral spinal fluid flow causing normal pressure hydrocephalus; metabolic and endocrine abnormalities (too much or too little thyroid hormone or cortisol are examples); radiation to the brain; brain trauma; stroke; and medication side-effects. Severe depression can also cause dementia. This is why medical, neurologic, and psychiatric assessments are essential parts of the initial evaluation of dementia.