Dementia diagnosis can be an evolving process. This can be stressful and time consuming. Waiting on the answers can be frustrating. Through the process, depression often takes place.
When cognitive impairment takes place, there can be other health concerns that can mimic dementia. It is important for those to be ruled out before a diagnosis of dementia is given.
What is involved in diagnosing dementia?.......physician interview, neurological testing, neuropsychological testing, lab work, CT scan, MRI Scan and others. A diagnosis of dementia might be achieved at this point in time.
There are over 100 types of dementia, sometimes making it difficult to determine the actual type of dementia. Usually though, there will likely be some hallmark or core symptoms taking place that will narrow the process.
Many times people tell me they have been misdiagnosed with their type of dementia. I was given two diagnoses that were related to parts of my final diagnosis. Does that mean the physicians were wrong? Sometimes it might mean that. I would suggest looking at it from a broader perspective though.
Looking at my situation, I was diagnosed with depression, syncope, MCI, Parkinson's Disease and Frontal Temporal Dementia before being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. Also I have times when I have difficulty spelling words and also knowing the word that matches the meaning that I want to write about. Do I feel comfortable with my diagnosis? Yes! Do I have peace with my diagnosis? Yes!
In a broader sense, let's look at other possibilities. In October 2013, I was asked to speak at the inaugural LBDA 5K at Stone Mountain in Georgia. I had the privilege of meeting a lot of wonderful people that day. One of these families was from Atlanta. They had rallied the troops and brought about thirty people to participate in this event. I could see the strength in this family and their supporters. They were such an inspiration to me and others.
Unfortunately their loved one died in 2015 with a diagnosis of LBD. Wanting to help other people, they donated his brain for study. The report came back. It was LBD, Alzheimer's and Frontal Temporal Dementia. I will remember this family for the rest of my life because they had a huge impact on my journey.
Autopsies have shown that over 50% of those diagnosed with a certain type of dementia have mixed dementia. Knowing this, does it alter my path? Likely not! One caveat though is that if the additional type of dementia is LBD, it would be good to know....LBD has significant medication sensitivities that can create additional problems.
Early diagnosis is important. What do we do after diagnosis? The decisions made here can have a huge impact on our journey. Accepting our diagnosis, being social, having a positive attitude and finding new purpose in life will be a cornerstone for our best quality of life.
Most importantly, after the above four things are done, is to remember, "There is life beyond diagnosis". Let's start living with purpose.
Fight Like a Tiger - Be LBD Strong
©June 26, 2016 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.