Memory loss has many causes
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News September 18, 2012 11:44AM
Elderly patients should report any changes in their health to their doctor, including memory loss. Regular visits with a primary care physician can help with disease prevention, rather than treating a condition after it develops. | Sun-Times Media File
If you go
What: “Ask the Geriatrician”
When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Leeza’s Place at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, 50 Uno Circle Drive, Joliet
Etc: Dr. Marc Kantar, geriatrician, will define dementia and how it is diagnosed and treated.
Contact: 815-741-0077 or visit www.provena.org/stjoes/leezasplace
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:06AM
If you walked into Dr. Marc Kantar’s office and said, “Doctor, I’m forgetting things. I’m afraid I have dementia,” he would most likely reply, “Because you said that to me, I know you don’t have dementia.”
“Dementia,” Kantar said, “is not just memory loss. It’s also the loss of certain types of function. Maybe the person can’t drive a care or balance a checkbook anymore. Memory loss by itself can be anything from depression to a cognitive disorder, but it is not dementia.”
Join Kantar on Thursday at Leeza’s Place at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center as he answers questions about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other syndromes that are more common and more complex to treat in individuals age 65 and older.
In fact, this complexity is the reason why Kantar, a family practice physician, decided to specialize in geriatrics. Early in his career, he discovered his training had ill-prepared him to deal with issues specific to the elderly and decided to pursue more specialized training.
Geriatrics as a speciality
Just as parents prefer a pediatrician for their child and women seek out obstetricians to manage their pregnancies, older patients should consider using a geriatrician to oversee their healthcare. Example: a geriatrician is more apt to spot circumstances that might even cause temporary and reversible dementia.
Occasionally, underlying health disorders or inappropriate combination of medications will cause transient dementia until the cause is diagnosed and remedied. For instance, treating older patients with hypertension is not the same as treating younger adults with hypertension.
An 85-year-old patient does not possess the kidney function of a 30-year-old, so an elderly person requires certain types of medications as well as individualized dosages and timing.
“If I prescribe a diuretic, I don’t want the patient getting up three times at night to go to the bathroom or falling because they’re dehydrated,” Kantar said.
Furthermore, although Alzheimer’s disease comprises about 70 percent of the dementia cases Kantar sees, it is only one of many different types of dementia. There is also frontal lobe dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia caused by multiple strokes or transient ischemic attacks.
Stay on top of your health
However, don’t wait until symptoms develop before seeking an evaluation for any health concern, including memory loss. Changing standards and policies in healthcare, as well as plain common sense, make prevention of disease preferable to treating an illness after it’s begun.
“People are often afraid to get checked out,” Kantar said. “They don’t want the doctor to find anything wrong with them; they don’t want to waste their co-pay. But even just one visit with a primary care physician can make a huge difference down the road.”
Kantar is on staff with Provena Medical Group. He received his medical degree from the Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica.
After receiving his degree, he completed a residency in family medicine at Aurora Saint Luke’s Medical Center/The University of Wisconsin and a fellowship in geriatric medicine at Columbia University Hospitals in New York.
His clinical interests are geriatric syndromes and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, urinary incontinence and improving the functional status of elderly patients.
For more information, contact Provena Medical Group at 815-773-7827 (Crest Hill) or 815-485-2541 (New Lenox).