Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunday, November 14, 2010 NC, Community Member, asks

Q: The link between Asperger's and Alzheimer's?

I accidentally saw some online forum in UK as well as in Yahoo. In the forums, someone discussed if Asperger's may cause Alzheimer's later on. Usually if one is not diagnosed with Asperger's as a child and then the person will/may be diagnosed with Alzheimer's in older age.  People with Asperger's might not be caught with it as a child in the old times because it may not be obvious for some people. People with Asperger's can function normally with self-centered mind and accomplish a lot. They are smart, not stupid. With the way they focus, they could be a good professor or scientist or a genius. Their handicaps on the social interaction or narrow interests can make them self-centered. The family actually suffers more due to the self-centered focus.


Does anyone here know about the link between Asperger's and Alzheimer's?

 

Thanks,

Nina

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Answers (7)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
11/15/10 10:10am

Hi Nina,

You are right that Asperger's (kind of a high functioning autism) as well as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other diseases can make people struggle socially, but many who have these disorders are brilliant.

 

There is a great deal that is still unknown about Alzheimer's, but I don't think there's been any credible evidence that Asperger's increases the risk of Alzheimer's. However, depression might do so.

Carol

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NC, Community Member
11/15/10 12:34pm

Some people think social isolation with Aperger's will make it more prone to Alzheimer's later on as social isolation can cause Alzheimer's. But I guess there is no real proof - just speculations.

I suspect my father-in-law has similar traits and thus he is self-centered about "working" with family for a long time. Now he still has more interest at work in the new home. He shows no interests for other regular or common matters. He sleeps during the activity because he was bored. The funny thing is he can still respond during such nap.

 

Thanks,
Nina

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
11/15/10 12:37pm

Good point, Nina. Social isolation does make people more prone to Alzheimer's, so if the person with Asperger's does isolate too much, I can see how they could be more at risk. I know a man with the disease and he's pretty social since he's married and has a family and job that makes him be with people. But there are so many levels of each disease.

 

Your always have such interesting ideas!

 

Blessings,

Carol

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MG, Community Member
4/22/11 4:30pm

Regarding any connection between Aspergers and dementia, Dr Tony Attwood in Australia held a workshop on 2nd of May 2000 and in the text of the workshop there is a reference to people with Aspergers being more likely to develop dementia after 70 years old. You can download the text of the workshop. The title was:  Workshop for Partners of People with Asperger's Syndrome. I don't have the exact URL but I am sure if you search you'll find it.

 

Bye the way, it is a misconception to think that people with Aspergers necessarily have a high IQ. Some may have that but in gerneral they are like other people regarding this i.e. within the Bell curve; some are average, others are above average and some are below and so on.

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mfriend, Community Member
8/16/12 9:19pm

No one will probably ever read this but, My father and sister are both diagnosed with Aspergers.  My 82 year old father now has Alzheimers.  I do not think AS is an indicator of a higher probability of senior dementia(s) anymore than apples and oranges are the same.  Yes; they are both fruit and yes the two illnesses are both syndroms and both of the syndromes names begin with the letter "A".  But that is as far as I believe it goes.  I have the unique opportunity of observing my father's Asapergers symptoms or "features" mutate a result of the brain disease of Alzheimers.  His AS features still exist and persist even as his mental processes break down. There is more evidence recently that links difficult chilhoods having high fear, anxiousness and early deprivation being linked to a pre-disposition towards Alzheimers or "senior dementia" than anything else.  To tell you the truth, there still is so very little known about Alzheimers; definitive causes, diagnosis, appropriate physical and supportive care or even nutritional needs, that it would be imposisble AT THIS TIME to link Alzheimers to AS.  One has to know difinitively what Alzheimers IS before we can begin to postuate cause or relationship to other conditions.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
8/17/12 6:40am

 

Well said, my friend. Well said. There is so much that is yet to be discovered. The brain is so complex, the illnesses so varied, that connections may or may not exist. it will take a lot more research before scientist know exactly what AD is, let alone the connections between AD and other illnesses.

Thanks for your input.

Carol

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NC, Community Member
8/17/12 11:05am

Thanks!

You are so right. We don't really understand AD enough.

 

Nina

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A J Benson, Community Member
10/ 3/12 2:06pm

I have known I have Asberger's for a number of years but have kept it very private.

 

At 82, I have now been diagnosed by a family doctor from a small practice as suffering from Altzeimer's!

 

I do take longer to remember some things but with a little patience it comes back! I cannot help thinking that it would be rare to have both conditions.

 

So I accept the slowing of the mind is due to my age. Meanwhile letting my doctor stay with her diagnosis.

 

The thing is, both my parents lived into their 90's and certainly my father was lucid to the end. Whereas Altzeimer's sufferers live only about 4 years more but there is no such age barrier with Asberger's.

 

Given that we tend to live five years longer these days plus probably another five years longer than our parents, I could reach my ton!

 

John Benson

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booboo, Community Member
7/21/14 9:05pm

My son is a psychologist.  He considers that Asperger's Syndrome is an over-diagnosed as well as an over-misdiagnosed condition.

 

I have been seeing a man who is 63 for about 3 months.  He says he has suffered from confusion and a bad memory for 15 to 20 years.  He believes he has been in the early stages of some kind of dementia for about that long and his psychologist has said he has Asperger's Syndrome.

 

Interestingly I found a link to a study in which researchers found 3 people with Asperger's Syndrome who had similar low level problems for a very long time.  I think the answer to the question could be elucidated using an MRI of the brain, searching for vascular problems, infarcts, brain shrinkage or signs of injury to the frontal parts of the brain.

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booboo, Community Member
7/21/14 9:07pm

I have to wonder if the antidepressant medication my friend is on could be contributing to his memory problems.  He takes a low dose of Lovan.

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booboo, Community Member
7/21/14 9:19pm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3379728/

 

These researchers found 3 patients with co-existing Asperger's Syndrome and Alzheimer's.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/22/14 10:48am

Hi Booboo,

 

First of all, your son may be right about the misdiagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome - there is so much yet to be learned about the brain that many brain illnesses are under, over or misdiagnosed. Also, one doctor may decide a low level of symptoms means the disease is present while another doctor may say that the patient hasn’t yet shown enough symptoms to confirm that he or she has the disease. Much like OCD, there are many levels of severity.

 

Your comment about the anti-depressant and memory issues is likely valid. Anti-depressants have many side effects and affect each person somewhat differently. Many people get confused, anxious or have memory issues when taking the drugs so it's possible that if this is the case a different anti-depressant should be discussed with the doctor.

 

It’s not at all unusual to have more than one mental issue such as two types of dementia – vascular and Alzheimer’s are quite commonly found together. There’s no reason why someone with Asperger’s couldn’t also develop Alzheimer’s. There’s quite a lot of research being conducted to see if people with depression, Asperger’s and other mental illnesses are more at risk for Alzheimer’s but there’s much work to be done before there are final conclusions.

 

Your raised some interesting questions. I imagine your son talks about these issues frequently. As far as your friend goes, it’s best that his doctor look into your/his concerns to see what can be decided. If necessary, a second opinion could be sought.

 

Thanks for checking in,

Carol

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booboo, Community Member
7/23/14 2:37am

Hi Carol,

 

Thanks for your answer.  My son seldom discusses issues with me, but I have had a strong interest in finding out more about Asperger's Syndrome since a very dysfunctional male school teacher tried to label him with this condition in 2001.  

 

I have found this to be a very common practice in Australian schools, as they receive extra money for students diagnosed with various developmental disorders.  It is also sometimes used to distract attention away from the teacher's performance, especially if he is the union delegate or football coach.

 

My son and I joined a group catering for gifted children when he was about 6 years old.  I found that very high IQ children had been labelled incorrectly with ADD, ADHD and ASD because they exhibited certain behaviours which seemed to be the result of the education system not meeting their needs.

 

Some of the children were also being worshipped by their parents due to their intellectual capabilities, instead of receiving an appropriate level of discipline, which caused them to behave in an obnoxious manner.  Some children also had 2 parents whose views on discipline were diametrically opposed, and were reacting accordingly.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/23/14 10:04am

Hi Booboo,

We have some of the same issues here.

Thanks for letting us know.

Carol

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By NC, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/23/14, First Published: 11/14/10