These are questions with answers that are most commonly asked. Many of these questions have been submitted through to and answered by Dr Simcock, a neurologist and the Neurological Foundation’s Medical Advisor.

  • My husband has been diagnosed as having Binswanger's disease - can you give me some information about this disorder?

    Severe hypertension can damage the small arteries inside the brain. This results in reduced bloodflow in the areas of the brain just beneath the cortex. The patient may have recurrent small strokes but the main feature is a progressive impairment of thinking and cognitive function. Nowadays, the term is seldom used and the condition is uncommon because hypertension can now be well controlled.

  • My husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease when he was 59, he is now 65. I have been able to manage him at home, but in the last month he refuses to wash or let me help him, and he has no interest in food. It is hard to get him to take his medications. What can I do?

    An important point is whether he has shown a steady decline in his abilities and behaviour (which is  expected of AD) or whether there has been a sudden deterioration, which would indicate the need to look for another cause. A new medical problem, such as an urinary infection or the onset of depression would be possible explanations of a sudden decline.

  • My husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease when he was 59; he is now 65. He had been doing really well and I’ve been able to keep him home. However, in the last month, he has been having problems. From being someone who had a great appetite, he now hardly eats anything. It’s also difficult to give his Alzheimer’s medication. I hardly take him shopping and other places anymore as I'm not sure what he will do. Over the past three years, I have been helping him shower, but now he refuses to do this. What can I do?

    Firstly, if you are struggling with all these challenges alone, you should get help and support from family, friends, a social support agency, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as a dementia specialist.

  • My husband was diagnosed with Granulomatous Angiitis of the CNS 3 years ago after undergoing a brain biopsy. Can you tell me how common this condition is in NZ and if there are other sufferers in this country and how we could contact them? Also we would like to join a support group but are unsure which one to approach. We thought maybe Stroke Foundation? Any advice?

    Granulomatous Angiitis is a very uncommon disorder - I have seen only 3 patients with it over 30 years. I am not in contact with these patients, but I will ask my colleagues at Auckland Hospital if they have such patients.

    The Stroke Foundation would be the appropriate support group to approach.

  • My mother and a cousin on my mother's side have multiple sclerosis. Am I likely to get MS? I am 23 and planning to have a family and I would reconsider this if I had a high chance of developing the disease.