Thursday, April 24, 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 (3)
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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By NC, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/28/13, First Published: 11/14/10