Can Alzheimer's go into a remission of sorts?

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 Answer

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.