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Old 11-17-2008, 12:18 AM   #1
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Brain Atrophy causes?

My 74 year old mother was diagnosed with cerebral atrophy. I don't think she has Alzheimer's, but I was hoping some of you would know about this type of condition as well.

We assumed that the atrophy was caused by chronic alcoholism. But I didn't see alcohol use listed as a cause, and I'm starting to worry about what else could be going on, and whether it is hereditary. (I'm 50 and I'm bothered by my own cognitive declines.)

Her most significant symtoms were balance problems (which were vastly improved with physical therapy) and I think she's had small seizures. She's had some cognitive declines, but nothing too serious. She says she still enjoys reading, but she doesn't seem to finish any books.

I recently noticed that her personality has changed a great deal. The change is mostly positive, but it just occurred to me that it could be a symptom. She used to get very worried and emotional over things, but she rarely does now. She was with a man for more than 20 years after my dad passed on, and he died earlier this year. I thought she would fall apart, but if anything, she became calmer, less emotional and less anxious in the last 6 months. I'd call it wisdom if it didn't change so fast. (I think she would have told me if they gave her antidepressants.)

She still lives alone in a condo building with many other people her age, but she's more than 1000 miles away from all of her kids. She plans to move to assisted living when she needs it. I get really worried that there are more problems that I don't know about because I'm not there to see them.

Any thoughts about causes, or what I should look out for?

 
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:52 AM   #2
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Re: Brain Atrophy causes?

Cerebral atrophy is a shrinking of the brain. It can be caused by stroke or brain trauma, various forms of dementia, cerebral palsy, Huntington's disease, MS, infections, epilepsy, or a number of other diseases. I have read a recent study which found that Cerebral Atrophy can be a result of extended drinking and the degree of atrophy depends of the duration of the drinking problem. There is a condition called alcholic associated dementia. It has been found that the atrophy can decrease after a period of abstinence, unlike the atrophy from Alz. You can do a web search on Alchohol Associated Dementia to read about it.

Is there a way you can visit with her to see what is going on? Or somebody close by that you would trust their opinoin? I have a feeling you might find more than you know is there. My Mom enjoys reading. She picks up a book or magazine, reads until she is interrupted, lays it down and never looks at it again. She doesn't remember what she has read previously. She his her inabilities for several years. She blamed the little flubs that we caught on sombody else, especially Dad, or on the fact that she was Dad's caregiver. When we almost caught on she explained to us she was depressed... she had also convinced her doctor of the same. We found out she had been on antidepressants for a while. When we looked deeper we found the burned pots stuck in the back of the food cabinets. We found thing she had ordered and not paid for because she didn't remember ordering them. Bills were unpaid and other paid repeatedly. Medication was being taken improperly. All the while she was telling us that she was fine... just a little depressed. Then the ladies in her bridge club said she couldn't remember the cards she had played, and the neighbors told us horror tales. Nothing substitues for being a snoop.

Get her permission for you to talk to her doctor. See what he says. Ask him to give her a mini mental and see how she does. Find out what medications she is on. If you know any friends or neighbors near her talk to them. If you can go visit her for a week.... do so. From experience I can tell you... if you expect something is amiss, it probably is!!

There are many reason for cognitive decline and if you are experiencing such you need to make sure your doctor is aware. I had a scare a few years ago. With a grandmother, several great aunts and aunts, a mom and a dad with dementia I truly believed I was headed down that path... until I found out that it was a side effect of the statin lipator that I was taking.... Now I have my brain back...at least for a while

Hope this has been of some help. Hang around a while and let us know what you find out. I hate you needed to be here but glad you are here!! I will keep you and your Mom in my thoughts and prayers and hope to hear from you again soon.

Love, deb

 
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