How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Half of the people aged 85 and older live with Alzheimer's disease. September is World Alzheimer's Month, and Saturday, September 21st is World Alzheimer's Day. We talked to Gainesville located neurologist, Dr. Justin Yancey about this neurological condition and what some early warning signs look like. 

What is Alzheimer's?

Dr. Yancey says, "Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior." Symptoms typically develop slowly, get worse over time, and eventually become severe enough that it interferes with daily functioning. He also adds, "The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is expected to rise over the coming years. Extensive research is currently ongoing, looking at earlier diagnosis, new therapies, and prevention. Patients with suspected Alzheimer's or other dementias should go to a neurologist for additional care."

What are the early warning signs of this disease?

Some possible early signs of Alzheimer's include difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion, memory loss that disrupts daily life, and trouble finding the right words. Dr. Yancey states, "It is essential to know that not all of these may show in a person with Alzheimer's. As well as having some of these does not mean that person will develop Alzheimer's disease."

Is there something that triggers it?

Many factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. "It is likely a complex mix of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors," explains Dr. Yancey. Increasing age is the most important known risk factor, and the disease doubles every five years beyond the age of 65. Some possible modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

It is common knowledge that there is no cure, but there are treatments for symptoms. What are those treatments?

There are two types of medications prescribed for patients with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Yancey describes, "They aim to help reduce memory loss modestly over time. Other medications can be used symptomatically to help with mood and behavioral issues."

What is the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?

Dr. Yancey answers, "Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and communication abilities. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia affecting about 5.8 million Americans and about 60-80% of dementia cases."

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yancey!

Everything You Need to Know About Brain Injuries

An estimated 2.8 million people suffer from brain injuries annually, and 282,000 of those injuries need hospitalization. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so we sat down and talked with our newest neurologist, Dr. Justin Yancey about how brain injuries occur, the different types of brain injuries, and what steps are taken to fully recover.

What sort of injuries could be classified as a brain injury?

Dr. Yancey says “Anything that causes injury to healthy brain tissue.” For example, concussions are the most commonly known brain injuries, but lack of oxygen, strokes, and tumors can also be categorized as a brain injury.

What is the difference between a traumatic brain injury and a non-traumatic brain injury?

Non-traumatic brain injuries are not related to a blow to the head but rather an illness or condition within the brain/body. So, while strokes and tumors are brain injuries, they would be non-traumatic. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by falls, sports-related hits, gunshot wounds, or explosions as just a couple of examples. TBI’s come from an active hit or injury to the head that is outside of the body.

What is the process you go about to diagnose a brain injury?

To properly diagnose a brain injury there needs to be a medical evaluation by a neurologist. The neurologist will also need to know the patient’s history and will perform a detailed neurological exam. This exam is crucial to determining how big of an effect this brain injury will have on the patient.

After diagnosis, what are treatment plans?

Dr. Yancey says that the treatment plans are dependent on how severe the injury is. If the injury is very severe, it may require surgery if there is brain swelling or blood in the brain and a long term stays in the hospital. If the damage is mild, the patient can just be observed at home. Though patients and their caregivers will be briefed to look for headaches, confusion, vision problems, vomiting, weakness, or an inability to awaken when the patient is taken home.

Also for mild concussions, Dr. Yancey recommends a rest period after, at least 24 hours but possibly longer for some cases. It is important to avoid strenuous mental and physical activity plus the activity that caused the injury as to not make it worse.

Is it possible for someone with a head injury to recover completely?

The good news is Dr. Yancey says it is possible for patients with mild concussions to recover fully, and they typically do. A more severe TBI does, on the other hand, make take longer and be a more complex problem. He also says to try not to get more than head injury because that can cause more permanent effects.

What else do you treat at SIMEDHealth Neurology?

  • Seizures
  • Memory Loss
  • Headaches
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Strokes
  • MS

If you have more questions about head injuries, and treatment click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yancey today!

Video: Get to Know Our New Neurologist Dr. Justin Yancey

Dr. Justin Yancey joined the SIMEDHealth family on July 30, 2018. He recently sat down and gave us some more details about himself. This includes his passion for helping others recover from their neurological conditions ever since his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Check out the video below to learn more:

After growing up in Alabama, Dr. Yancey received his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Alabama. Then he received his doctorate of medicine from the University of Alabama’s School of Medicine. He was most recently in North Central Florida after completing his residency in Neurology at the University of Florida. While here, he served as Chief Resident. Shortly afterward, he achieved his fellowship in movement disorders from Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

In the midst of completing his doctoral training, Dr. Yancey has been involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Special Olympics, university mentorships and the American Red Cross Tornado Relief among others. In his free time, Dr. Yancey enjoys getting out on the water and spending time with family and friends.

Dr. Yancey is able to diagnose and treat a variety of neurological conditions. These conditions include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, tremors, headaches, seizures, and multiple sclerosis. He is available to see patients in ours. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Yancey, please call SIMEDHealth Neurology at (352) 374-2222 or Click here to request an appointment.

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