Is There a New Disease Mimicking Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease, like other forms of memory loss and dementia, is generally diagnosed by recognizing a series of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include: confusion, inability to recognize common things, loss of appetite, mood swings, inability to create new memories, sundowning and other indicators. Sometimes it’s difficult for caregivers and doctors to recognize the difference between specific types of dementia, since symptoms can cross diagnoses.

What is LATE?

However, brain autopsies of patients who were thought to have Alzheimer’s are showing that a newly identified disease may be masquerading as Alzheimer’s disease. This disease, known as limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, or LATE, may be affecting up to 17% of seniors over 80 who’ve been diagnosed with dementia. But LATE is not yet recognizable in PET scans or spinal fluid draws, like Alzheimer’s is. As of now, LATE is only identifiable after examining the brain in an autopsy.

Doctors don’t have a magic bullet for the care of dementia. Though there are drugs that slow the progression of diseases and that target cognitive function, early testing for dementia is the best way to begin to treat symptoms of dementia and to plan for the progression of the disease. Brain health is a relatively new science, though more breakthroughs are being made thanks to better imaging and clearer genetic research.

Catching dementia before it progresses is key in its treatment. Get an assessment if you think you or a loved one shows symptoms of dementia, then begin the course of recommended action. Planning for the eventualities of a disease like LATE, ALS, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s  in Johnson County or Kansas City might include engaging skilled nursing professionals like those at Thoughtful Care, who are trained to help with memory skills and functions. It’s never too soon to set a course for healthy aging.