Some years before my mother was diagnosed with dementia, there was a brain scan. I thought there was a little too much space in there, the brain pulled further away from the skull, the brain folds too deep and the gaps too wide.
I sought a friend who was supposed to know about these things and asked my questions. My mother is slowing down, she seems less sharp. Does this scan indicate early dementia changes, perhaps?
No, no, he said. You cannot tell dementia from a brain scan. People can have less brain matter and still function normally. On the other hand, there can be dementia with a normal brain scan.
Surely this scan of a shrinking brain is consistent with my experience that she is slowing down? I asked.
No, he said. This scan looks normal to me. I cannot agree that there is any brain shrinkage.
Neither of us was wrong. I already knew she was changing and sensed the onset of dementia. I wanted the brain scan to support what I felt was happening. However, the scan might have passed as normal then, and it is true many older persons will have more space in their skills without having any symptoms of dementia.