Dr. Rosemary Leonard answers a question on does my husband have alzheimer's in the company of Emma Howard.
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Emma Howard: Hello! We are answering questions on health and medical problems. I am joined by Dr. Rosemary Leonard. Hello!
Rosemary Leonard: Hello!
Emma Howard: Rosemary, we've got a question here from a lady about her husband. Her husband is in his 70s. She says he seems forgetful, struggles to find the right word and looses his temper frequently. She has now become quite scared of living him in the house and she wants to know, because they both are in their 70s, is she looking as a husband who's got Alzheimer, is that what's going on?
Rosemary Leonard: Not necessarily. It's quite surprising, in the elderly, you can get a personality change and you can get memory problems. From relatively simple straight-forward conditions such as an underactive thyroid, such as even a ear and urinary tract infection, a chest infection. In men particularly ear and urinary tract infections can be a problem and they can lead to problems like this. So he needs to go and have a general checkup first to be sure that he hasn't gotten an underlying medical condition that is causing this change in his personality.
If that's ruled out, then he needs to go and have a specific memory testing done. Now some old people just do get a bit forgetful in later life. We all get a bit more forgetful in later life. Well, it's more worrying to me and this is the fact that he is loosing his temper. Now he maybe loosing his temper because he is getting frustrated of the fact he can't remember things. So you need to sort of explore that a bit further, but it doesn't necessarily mean, he has got Alzheimer's.
Emma Howard: And if he were beginning Alzheimer's, there are drugs on the market that can actually arrest it's development now, aren't there?
Rosemary Leonard: Yes there are, but they can only be prescribed by specialists in special clinics and hospital. They cannot be prescribed by GPs. So what we have to do as GP is refer people on. The other thing that's important about these clinics is not only can they prescribe the drugs that can be helpful, but there are specialists support nurses that can come around to your own home and see how things actually are in the home, because the other thing to remember, when you've got a problem like this, it's interesting, she has written in, it can put a huge strain on the partner coping with somebody who has got memory problems, you need support with that.
Emma Howard: And it's increasing, it seems all time. It's interesting about this phrase "absent mindedness" because most people's first reaction as you said is we all get a bit more absent minded as we grow older and sometimes you put the problem away then and don't really look, maybe where it's going?
Rosemary Leopard: Yes, generally a bit of absent mindedness is nothing to worry about, but you do have to look at the whole picture, and for instance this is a man who is still driving. Can he remember traffic signs? You have to look at everything involved with this his life. She is worried about leaving him in the house, but also when he goes out of the house, what happens then?
Emma Howard: So she has to get him along to the GP and in this case you think it would be better for her for to make the appointment and they go along together?
Rosemary Leopard: Yes, and if he refuses which sometimes happens, and says there is nothing wrong with me, then you can have a chat with a GP without him being there and the GP can then go and do a home visit.
Emma Howard: As usual, a very good advice Rosemary. Thank you for answering that question. And if you have a similar problem, we hope we might have given you some help, but remember it's always best to go and see your own doctor for medical advice. Thanks for watching. We'll be back with more health questions and answers.