Medical expert provides warning signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s

The month of May is known in medical circles as “Older Americans Month.” What the warning signs for dementia and Alzheimer's are.
Published: May. 14, 2023 at 8:57 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The month of May is known in medical circles as “Older Americans Month.” I recently sat down with an expert on dementia and Alzheimer’s, to learn what the warning signs can be, and what treatments... If any... There are to combat this disease.

Numbers can slightly vary by study... But it’s estimated that more than 7 million people ages 65 or older have dementia. And the Alzheimer’s Association reports that one-in-nine senior citizens are living with diagnosed Alzheimer’s. Doctor Karl Radke, of Community Health Center of Central Wyoming, offers some warning signs that both seniors, and especially their family members, should watch out for.

“Patients who repeat questions answered by family members. If the patient gets lost while driving, is another obvious sign of that. Some patients start to become more unkempt; that is their hygiene starts to fail somewhat. And you’ll see that noticeably in the house, if the house is unclean.”

For those with Alzheimer’s, memories from yesteryear seem to stick. But as for memories from yesterday...

“Well the memories those patients have difficulty with are the short term memories. So the most recent memory, usually, is the hardest for them to remember.”

Radke says current medications can, sadly, only do so much. “There are medications that patients with dementia can take. And it doesn’t improve the memory. It only slows the rate of decline. The best way to try to help a person with their memory, is really to keep them functional and active. All through their adult years.”

At this point, I somewhat jokingly mentioned, “I’ve heard a lot of senior citizens like pinochle...”

Dr. Radke laughed a little, and says, “Anything that challenges the brain really is good for the brain. So I’m an advocate of any kinds of games that they can get out. Crossword puzzles, Cryptoquips, word jumbles... All of that is helpful.”

If you or a loved may have dementia, seeing your doctor can be crucial. “There’s several different tests that your physicians can do. There’s the mini-cog test, there’s the slums test, there’s the mocha test. Those tests can be administered during a patient’s annual wellness visit. And Medicare provides for those visits to their providers.”

Dr. Radke says there are not any cures for Alzheimer’s at the moment, but that new prescriptions to fight the disease are being developed, and could hit the market in 5-10 years.