Category: Alzheimer’s

7 Reasons to See a Neurologist

Human brain digital illustration. Electrical activity, flashes and lightning on a blue background.; blog: reasons to see a neurologist

 

Neurologists are doctors that have specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the nervous system. Your nervous system is made up of your brain, spinal cord, and nerves throughout your entire body. If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate a problem with your nervous system, your primary doctor will probably refer you to a neurologist. The following are all good reasons to see a neurologist.

1. Existing Neurological Disorders

The presence of a previously diagnosed neurological disorder is probably one of the most obvious reasons to see a neurologist. Even if your symptoms are well controlled, frequent monitoring may be needed. Conditions you might see a neurologist regularly for include

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease 
  • History of stroke

2. Persistent Headaches

Most people experience headaches every now and then, but if you have frequent and persistent headaches, then that’s a good reason to see a neurologist. Headaches are a couple and different types of headaches have a multitude of causes. To make sure there is not a serious condition at the root of your headaches, a doctor should evaluate you.

3. Migraine

One coming type of headache that affects many people is a migraine. If you have frequent and persistent headaches accompanied by other symptoms, you may be suffering from migraines. Symptoms of migraine include:

  • Headache on one or both sides of the head
  • Headache that worsens with physical activity
  • Pain that is throbbing or pulsing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Sensitivity to smells

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine impacts over 37 million people in the United States and 144 million worldwide. If you have symptoms of migraine that your primary care provider is unable to treat, you should see a neurologist.

4. Blackouts

You can think of a blackout as a momentary glitch in the nervous system. During a blackout, the individual is unaware of what is happening and goes into a trance-like state. Sometimes a person will thrash around as if having a seizure during a blackout. Other times they will be motionless and unresponsive. If you experience blackouts frequently, then you should seek attention from a neurologist.

5. Seizures

If you have a seizure but have not been diagnosed with a seizure disorder like epilepsy, you need to see a neurologist. While many types of epilepsy are present during infancy and childhood, there is such a thing as adult-onset epilepsy. A seizure can also be a symptom of another condition such as meningitis or a brain tumor.

6. Dizziness

Dizziness, or vertigo, is the sensation that the world is spinning around you. Or it may seem like you are spinning around while the world is standing still. Vertigo can be life-altering because it prevents you from carrying out daily tasks like going to work and caring for your family. While vertigo may resolve itself after a while, you should still see a neurologist to have the underlying condition diagnosed. Many of the causes are not life-threatening, but they share symptoms with more serious conditions like stroke. Some conditions that are linked to vertigo and dizziness include

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Meniere’s disease 
  • Vestibular neuritis/labyrinthitis
  • Vestibular migraine

7. Neuropathy 

Peripheral neuropathy, usually just called neuropathy, is the name given to a group of conditions that affect the body’s peripheral nerves. The peripheral nervous system connects the central nervous system, made up of the brain and spinal cord, to the rest of the body. Neuropathy can take many forms, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Poor coordination
  • Burning sensations
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the affected body part
  • Paralysis 

There is a long list of conditions that can cause neuropathy, ranging from autoimmune disease to vitamin deficiencies. One type of neuropathy many people have heard of is diabetic neuropathy, due to how common diabetes is in the US.

Make an Appointment to See a Neurologist

If you have a diagnosed neurological disorder or one of the above symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment to see a neurologist. The dedicated team of professionals at Regional Neurological Associates has advanced training in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders so you can feel confident you are getting expert care. To make an appointment, call (718) 515-4347.

Living with Alzheimer’s: How to Enjoy the Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Grandma, grandpa, mum and child exchanging gifts. Parents and daughters having fun near tree indoors. Loving family with presents in room; blog: Living with Alzheimer’s: How to Enjoy the Holidays

 

Families who are affected by Alzheimer’s know all too well how the disease seeps into every aspect of life. The holidays are no exception to this rule. A time that is usually full of fun and festive joy may be stressful or even a bit sad. Family members may look back on the past holiday seasons they spent together and feel a sense of loss. Caregivers are often given more responsibility to accommodate visitors and activities. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, so people need to know that they can still enjoy the holidays by following these tips.

1. Plan Ahead

Many people affected by Alzheimer’s disease will have certain times during the day where they are in the best frame of mind to interact with others. Plan any visits or gatherings around that time and try not to disrupt their usual schedule. Routine is important when living with dementia.

If there are things you want to get out and do, or parties you want to have, but necessary plans in place. Alzheimer’s can be unpredictable, but if you are a caregiver, you know better than anyone what to expect from your loved one. 

2. Communicate Effectively

If you’re having a family gathering, keep attendees updated on their loved one’s state of mind and behavior. This can help manage their expectations before they come to visit. The family member living with Alzheimer’s disease may have also changed in appearance since the last visit, so sharing recent photos might also be a good idea.

Give family and friends tips on how to communicate most effectively. Encourage them to be patient as they listen and resist the urge to interrupt or correct things. Advise them not to get frustrated or comment on any repeated questions or stories from the family member with Alzheimer’s.

3. Be Flexible

Remember what we just said about planning? Do it, but don’t be surprised if plans have to be altered. Be flexible enough to not let a change in plans derail your whole day. Living with Alzheimer’s can be unpredictable. 

4. Focus on Meaningful Activities

Because you might get to do all the things you want, make sure you prioritize what’s most important. Try to stick to simple things that bring joy like decorating cookies, reading a favorite book aloud, or watching an old Christmas movie. 

5. Keep Gatherings Small

Big crowds, even if they’re full of faces that were once familiar, can be overwhelming to someone living with Alzheimer’s. Keep holiday gatherings small and intimate so everyone is comfortable and relaxed. 

6. Celebrate in a Familiar Setting

Changes in the environment can cause distress and confusion for people with dementia. If the individual lives in a care facility, then ask if you can use a room there for a small family celebration. The facility might also have activities planned for residents that you can participate in. 

If the individual lives in your home, then choose the space there that is most familiar and comfortable for them to be in for any holiday gatherings. It’s also a good idea to have a quiet space where the family member with Alzheimer’s disease can go to be alone or have one-on-one visits. 

Playing familiar holiday music may also help put individuals with Alzheimer’s at ease and create a festive, yet calm, environment. Just make sure it’s not too loud and startling.

7. Don’t Go Crazy with Decorations

Everyone loves the festive cheer of a decorated house or care facility. However, big displays that require rearranging things can confuse people with dementia who may not recognize a once-familiar setting when it’s altered. Blinking lights and cluttered surfaces may also confuse and should be avoided.

8. Keep Visits and Outings Brief

If you have visitors, have them come in on different days and make sure they keep their visits on the short side. Similarly, if you plan on going somewhere for a holiday celebration, make it brief. Be prepared to leave early if needed. 

9. Don’t Schedule Too Much

Make sure you and your loved ones get downtime to rest and recharge. Dealing with Alzheimer’s during the holidays can be trying for everyone, so it’s important not to commit to more than you can handle. After all, the holidays should bring some joy to everyone involved.

Make an Appointment at Regional Neurological Associates

The physicians at Regional Neurological Associates are all board-certified neurologists with experience in treating a variety of disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. If you have questions or concerns about neurological health, including living with dementia during the holidays, call (718) 515-4347 to make an appointment.