Local couple finds out about Alzheimer's misdiagnosis

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Sep 17 2013 04:38:00 PM HST

A Hawaii man cares for his wife, who was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's, and a doctor discusses the importance of correct diagnosis.

HONOLULU -

In the six years since Ken Takeya's wife Charlotte was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he's become something of a pro.

Ken has learned the tips and the techniques.  He even created his own checklist and learned his wife didn't have Alzheimer's at all!  She was misdiagnosed!

"In this case, this patient had water on the brain, which is totally treatable dementia," said Dr. Kore Liow of the Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Center.

Liow says the right diagnosis is key since several types of dementia are treatable, including low-thyroid levels, vitamin deficiencies and stroke.

"It's so gratifying when we can find them and help them," said Dr. Liow.

Liow says buildup of plaque in the brain is what causes the incurable Alzheimer's dementia.  But soon, he'll launch a clinical study to see if exercise, a healthy diet and extra vitamins could reduce that plaque and protect those at risk.

"What's good for the heart may also be good for the brain," said Dr. Liow.

Ken says, slowly, Charlotte's motor skills are returning.  He's helping other learn what to look for and how to care for their loved ones to find balance once again.

"I feel we've been given a new lease on life, so it's important we try to help somebody else," said Takeya.

The Alzheimer's Association reported last year that some 15 million caregivers provided $216 billion in unpaid care.

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