Can Alzheimer's go into a remission of sorts?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 21, 2016
Avislove asked...

Is it possible for a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's to go into a remission? Recalling multiple past events and hobbies previously not spoken of for months. If it is a remission is this going to last or a sign further deterioration is on the way?

Expert Answers

Dennis Fortier, MA, MBA, is the president and CEO of Medical Care Corporation, a neuroinformatics company that develops assessment technologies, enabling physicians to objectively evaluate memory and other cognitive functions in their patients. Fortier also authors the widely followed Brain Today blog, writing about advances in brain health, memory loss, and Alzheimer's disease.

To answer this question, I think it is important to appreciate the following important aspect of Alzheimer's disease; most patients with Alzheimer's disease also have other medical conditions that can contribute to impaired thinking. This means that the patient's memory, judgment, and verbal abilities may be diminished by a combination of effects from Alzheimer's disease and from other conditions.

If an Alzheimer's patient demonstrates a sudden improvement, it usually indicates that something has changed. It might be some aspect of the patient's environment has improved, for example a relationship or housing arrangement, or it might mean, that some other medical condition has been resolved.

A partial list of common medical conditions known to impair thinking includes: diabetes, anxiety,drug use (prescription as well as over the counter), small silent strokes, depression, urinary tract infection, thyroid imbalance, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

In some instances, fluctuations in memory and verbal abilities do precede further decline but it really depends on what is causing the fluctuation. I am not aware of any evidence suggesting that Alzheimer's disease, as it is currently understood, goes into remission. It seems to advance progressively, albeit at different rates with different people, and is not known to reverse course.

Community Answers

Frena answered...

if someone i was caring for was said to have Alzheimer's (which, by the way, too many people do not realize is a default diagnosis. that is, when everything else findable has NOT been found, then by default you must have Alzheimer's, which has NO findable evidence so far, just outer behaviors) and that Alzheimer's patient showed a marked improvement, i would urge the family to get them back for a further and more accurate diagnosis. sudden improvements are not normal to the pattern of Alzheimer's, but they suggest that something helpable is actually going on in this person. that said, many people said to have Alzheimer's actually never even had the full Alzheimer's workup. so they could actually have had any of about 20 fixable, helpable, adjustable conditions. some doctors are still telling family that someone has Alzheimer's when all they was fail the Mini-Mental which only establishes memory problems, not diagnosis. so i encourage you to get this person to a good doctor. it's looking good for a better diagnosis of something maybe treatable. good luck and congratulations on asking a wonderfully sensible question

Rita smith answered...

Our mother showed sudden improvement after she recently fell and suffered mild head trauma. I am wondering if anyone else has seen this effect, albeit only temporary? I hypothesize that the impact may have loosened some plaque or improved the synapses connections in the brain.