A Curable Dementia? Yes!

It is not often there is good news about dementia treatment. Although only affecting a small percentage of cognitive impairment, researchers now have a cure for one type of dementia that often gets misdiagnosed.

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A Curable Dementia? Yes!
3 Min Read November 27th, 2020
James Kelly

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

When a loved one starts showing signs of dementia, the family usually gets depressed. The slow onset of memory loss is often the first sign of a slow decline in quality of life and stress for the rest of the family. However, there is now treatment for one type of dementia where a cure is possible.

"Autoimmune Dementia" represents around 5% of all the dementia cases diagnosed. The symptoms of this type of memory loss and related confusion are caused by inflammation of the brain. Rogue antibodies, known as autoantibodies, bind to the neuronal tissue. These antibodies cause inflammation that brings confusion and memory loss.

Associate Professor Sarosh IraniResearchers have been better able to distinguish between the various forms of cognitive impairment. While most dementia types cannot be cured, Autoimmune Dementiacan be treated and cured, giving hope to those who suffer from this type of cognitive decline. Associate Professor Sarosh Irani, from John Radcliffe Hospital at the University of Oxford, is one of the world’s leading experts in treating neurological conditions caused by immune system problems. There are over 200 types of dementia, and Dr. Irani says he can distinguish the difference between the most common forms of dementia and autoimmune dementia.  

Clues for Proper Diagnosis

Quoted in the UK's Guardian, Dr. Irani says the onset of dementia symptoms' speed is a primary clue.

"The symptoms usually come on very quickly," Irani told the Guardian.

"Over a few weeks or months, patients develop memory problems and change their behavior and personality. Patients with neurodegenerative forms of dementia can develop movement disorders or seizures, but this typically happens later in the illness once degeneration has set in. In auto-immune dementia, these are early problems."

Treatment Works Fast

Patients respond quickly with treatment and can leave a nursing home and return home to lead normal lives. Treatment includes steroids and other immunotherapies. The problem is this type of dementia oven gets misdiagnosed. Mayo Clinic data suggests 35% of dementia patients who were successfully treated between 2002 and 2009 at the clinic were originally misdiagnosed with either Alzheimer's or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

These numbers don't count many people who were never officially diagnosed with anything since family members assumed dementia and cared for their loved ones at home without complete medical studies.

While this still represents a small amount of dementia, it does show that all kinds of auto-immune diseases can have successful treatment.

“It’s become one of the most exciting areas of neurology,” Irani explained. “There are subgroups within all these illness groups that have very treatable diseases. If you’re a dementia doctor, a small percentage of your patients will have this condition, the same if you’re a psychiatrist or a multiple sclerosis doctor. And with these patients you can actually directly treat the underlying cause by suppressing the immune system.”

Other Dementiaand Aging Problems Still Exist

The good news doesn't mean you will avoid any cognitive decline as you get older. The longer you live, the better the chance you may suffer from some type of dementia. Aging brings many health challenges that preparing for the financial costs, and burdens of aging is essential to anyone's retirement plan.

As many American families have discovered, health insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for most long-term health care. The responsibility will either be your own income and savings, your family, or Medicaid if you have little or no assets. Only Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of quality care either in your home or in a facility. 

Plan for the Challenges of Longevity

Experts suggest you obtain coverage when you are younger and still have good health since these plans are medically underwritten. In other words, you can't wait until you have serious health issues to get coverage.

Policies are custom designed and affordable but be careful since premiums vary as much as 100% for the same coverage between insurance companies. 

Find a Long-Term Care specialist who works with multiple companies to help you shop and navigate the many available options. You can find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

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