You see, I live in a community where there are a lot of people over 80 years old. Simple statistics tell me that one in every three will suffer from dementia. If they live long enough, one in every two.
Those are the odds.
For some reason when a person starts showing signs of dementia here, and I suggest they get a full blown evaluation and full blown testing for dementia, my suggestion falls on deaf ears.
Denial and fear are rampant. I understand.
Today I learned an important lesson. But first, let me tell you how I cured a neighbor of Alzheimer's.
I know a man and his wife that are both in their 80s. Recently the man got lost while driving home from a place that was not totally familiar.
The wife who is actually the good friend told me this.
At first, I suggested she talk to his doctor and get a full blown evaluation for dementia. Nothing happened.
I started keeping an eye on him and I didn't like what I was seeing.
For the first time ever, I had a new and different idea. I typed up a note and gave it to the woman and suggested she give it to the husband's personal care doctor.
The note started by mentioning how recently the man had gotten lost while driving. He did find his way home on his own.
I mentioned that he recently seem dull, lethargic, and was not answering questions very well. He seemed to be having problems assimilated information.
I asked the doctor if she would check his thyroid and B 12 level. As far as I knew, nothing ever happened.
Then this morning I see the wife and she says, it looks like the B 12 did the trick. I did not immediately understand what she was saying.
She then told me that the man had been receiving weekly B 12 shots and now he was receiving monthly shots.
She went on to tell me he is a different man and now they are not arguing all the time. Previously, she complained to me that all they did was argue.
I suppose the diagnosis was hypocobalaminemia or Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Here are the issues.
As we age our bodies have a difficulty absorbing Vitamin B 12 even if we are eating well. The body does not absorb B12 well from the foods we eat. The answer to this problem is B12 shots.
If an older person, older means over 65 years of age, starts evidencing dementia like symptoms it could be due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
There are lots of other illnesses that can present as dementia but in fact can be easily fixed or cured. One that is on the top of my list is a sluggish thyroid in this case -- Hypothyroidism.
It is estimated that 10 percent of the elderly suffer from Hypothyroidism that goes untreated. In the case of women it is 20 percent.
We have more than ten women that read on this website and thought they might be getting in to an early stage of dementia. They had their thyroid tested and learned that hypothyroidism was the problem.
Here is what I just learned. Instead of making suggestions to my neighbors or friends in the future, I am going to write a note to either them or their doctor.
I am going to ask them to take the note to the doctor. I will make it clear in the note that I am not a doctor.
I cured my first patient. Well, maybe.
I must say I am feeling good on this Independence Day 2012.
However, I will never understand for the life of me how a vitamin B12 deficiency or a sluggish thyroid that present with dementia like symptoms can go undetected.
All it takes is a simple, cheap blood test to detect these problems.
If you are over 65 years old. Take charge of your life.
Ask the doctor for a good thorough blood test. Then make sure you go over every line on that blood test to determine if there is a problem he missed, or if some of the results are "suspicious".
As Sister Raymond Mary use to say,
A Word to the Wise is Sufficient.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,711 articles with more than 302,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room