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Does Alzheimer's disease have an association with thyroid?

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Practicing since : 2001
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My father, who retired as Principal of a college of Assam in 1997, is 74 years old. He led a very active life even up to the last moment of his retirement. He was a political activist and he was one of those few persons who built the communist movement in this part of Assam. He was also put into prison for more than one year during emergency. He also became an M.L.A. in 1977 from communist party. In his personal life, he maintained utmost simplicity and honesty. He tirelessly fought against all odds and hurdles that he came across during his life. He was a voracious reader and inspired all of the family members to read books. Although he did not have formal education in science, he was very interested in science and mathematics. Some household electrical works or some scientific projects were his hobby. I do remember vividly some occasions, where he was engrossed in our high school mathematics along with us. In his early life he used to write, but in later period of his life he rarely wrote and took lots of time in editing. He was an acute observer of the social-political development and showed immense interest in the discussions. He also used to paint and act in drama and in these cases also his topics of interest were mainly the lives of common people or some radical ideas. ( I know that these might be very boring for you and you would be interested to XXXXXXX the patient, but I am giving you my opinion about my father under the impression that such information might also be useful to you.)
My father does not have diabetes and hypertension problem. But from 2007, we have observed a gradual development of forgetfulness. Initially we did not give much interest in it because my father never had a very good memory. He could never remember the years of important historical events and he was never interested for it also. But, when he started asking the very same question several times a day, we noticed it. We met neurologist and he was prescribed donep, then donamem-10. He is now taking Donamem-10 every day. One and half years back he was diagnosed with Thyroid problem and took Eltroxine-1. Six months back we stopped Eltroxine-1 without any discussion with the doctor ( That was wrong , I know). Three months back, his TSH was found 12. But till now he has not started Thyroid medicine. Few days back, ECG test and Chest X-ray was done. The ECG report mentioned slight abnormality in anterior leads and the X-Ray report noted mild cardiomegaly. Now a days he does not read, just gives a bird eye view on daily paper. He complains that he can not concentrate. He does not seem to have interest on anything, political discussion in TV, films , serials, games (He did not have much interest on films, serials and games in his active life also.). Most of the time he speaks about his childhood and his young active life, his political experiences, his struggles of life, his successful period as Principal etc. and he speaks them repeatedly. But very recently he has reduced talking. Most of the time a gloomy and depressing look appear on his face. To some extent he still loves traveling; but not that much.

I have written all those things because, besides early Alzheimer (As said by doctor), I am under the impression that his forgetfulness may also be the result of his depression, which is curable. Does it have any relation with Thyroid problem?
Would you kindly suggest me? Do you advise me to take the patient to you?
Posted Wed, 2 May 2012 in Alzheimer's
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 7 hours later
Thanks for writing to us.
I must admire the active lifestyle your father has followed till the retirement.
It must be very hard for him now that he keeps on forgetting things and cannot interact much with others.
A TSH of 12 is quite high and a thyroid supplementation is necessary for him after properly consulting with his endocrinologist. Low levels of thyroid hormone in the body are definitely associated with depressive disorders, low mood, suicidal thoughts and forgetfulness. His symptoms are getting precipitated due to the hormone deficiency.
He must resume his thyroid supplementation as soon as possible. He also needs to consult a cardiologist for his complete cardiac status assessment.
Gradually you will notice an improvement in his behavior in 6-8 weeks of regular treatment.
I hope my answer and recommendations are adequate and helpful. Waiting for your further follow up queries if any.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does Alzheimer's disease have an association with thyroid? 1 hour later
Should my father continue Donamem-10 ? Can I take my father anywhere in India for special treatment? Would you make any special instructions the family members should follow?
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 1 hour later
Thanks for writing again.

Yes he needs to continue taking Donamem-10 as advised by his physician.

Your father can travel any distance as long a he is not left alone. You can consult the specialists in the relative fields.

Your family members should stay close to him, give him some time to listen to his thoughts.

Try to indulge in some simple activities with him like playing ludo, listening to music, going for a walk, etc.

Wishing your father an early recovery.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does Alzheimer's disease have an association with thyroid? 7 hours later
Thank you. Would you recommend any hospital or specialist inside India where we can take father for treatment?
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 3 hours later

I do not have any personal reference of neurologist who will be able to manage his condition. However there are quite a few neurological institutes available to treat such problems. One such institute is the NIMHANS at Bangalore.

Alternatively you may choose a doctor near your area through this link WWW.WWWW.WW

We have patient written reviews for doctors in our listing, those can guide you for a better doctor. You can search for a doctor in your area at which is best suitable for you.

Thanks again.

Best wishes
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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