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Help With Alzheimer's Disease

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is one of the most common forms of dementia, a group of symptoms that lead to a decline in mental function severe enough to disrupt daily life. Alzheimer’s causes problems with a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Mar 23, 2017
Peer Support: Making a Difference for People with Mental Illness

Peer support refers to people with the same types of problems helping each other. The concept of peer support has been used for many years among people with addictions, for example in Alcoholic Anonymous where people with “lived experience” help others to recover. The use of peer support with people with mental illness is more recent, particularly peer support in a professional capacity as part of the mental health care team.

  • Feb 03, 2017
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry Work to Raise Awareness about Mental Health

In January, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry spoke at an awareness-raising event at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts on the latest plans for their Heads Together campaign. They have been outspoken advocates for mental health for some time. While their efforts are primarily in the United Kingdom, their influence is international.

  • Jan 31, 2017
Would You Want to Know if You Were Going to Develop Alzheimer’s?

If people were offered the opportunity to take a free and definitive test predicting whether they would develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life, would they want to take it?

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Alzheimer’s Association

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s - Find Local Events
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Alzheimer’s Association

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Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

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Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
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I understand there are medications that can help with Alzheimer’s. Are there medications that actually help slow memory loss? Are they appropriate for everyone with Alzheimer’s?

There are no medications available today which slow memory loss over an extended period of time. The medications approved for Alzheimer’s have been shown in controlled studies to slow memory loss over a few months, but after 6-12 months, memory decline in those who take the medications is similar to those who do not take the medications. New drugs are being studied, and hopefully one or more will demonstrate a clear ability to reduce or stop the decline in memory impairment (we should not expect any of the drugs to restore memory loss). More

My father-in-law is experiencing some memory problems. At what point should he seek help?

It is always a good plan to have your father-in-law examined by an experienced geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist when signs of memory loss emerge. The reason is that memory loss may not be due to Alzheimer’s or another irreversible dementia. Medications, an acute illness, or even a brain tumor may be causing the problem. Nevertheless, over the long run for the vast majority of persons with memory loss, it is important to monitor function carefully. Occasional forgetfulness, such as forgetting names, is not a major problem. Yet when the older adult begins to leave the stove on, repeatedly loses his car keys and cannot locate them, cannot keep up with usual personal business (such as banking) or cannot find his way home driving from a familiar place, then help (often from a social worker) is most important to maintain independent living as long as possible. Alzheimer’s support groups are found in most communities and they can be of great assistance to people with Alzheimer’s and their families. You can start with your state or local office on aging or a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. More

My mom has memory problems that are really impacting her life, but she’s refusing to seek evaluation or help. What can we do?

In such situations, I will revert to the “family conference.” In such a setting, all significant members of the family (spouse if living, children, siblings) meet alone first and agree on the significance of the problem and what needs to be done with the assistance of a social worker who is skilled in the day-to-day management of memory problems. A plan is devised. Then the family meets with the older adult and as a group virtually insists that the older adult seek help, if not for her sake, then for the sake of the family. Have an appointment already set up. Have at least two family members go with the older adult to the evaluation and make certain that the family (in the presence of the older adult) express to the clinician the problems that have been noticed. This approach works most of the time IF the family is in agreement and speaks as one voice. More

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About the Expert:

Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor in Community and Family Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Roger’s Story

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Roger, a 71-year-old man, was referred to a psychiatrist by his primary care doctor for symptoms of depression that had not responded to medication. Roger’s wife reported that he had begun to change at age 68, about a year after his retirement. He had stopped playing golf and cards, which he had enjoyed for decades. He no longer looked forward to going out of the house, and he refused to socialize. Instead, he sat on the couch all day and watched TV or napped. His wife said he was sleeping 10-13 hours a day instead of his normal seven hours. more

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Editor's Choice

FEB 16, 2017

The New Offensive on Alzheimer's Disease: Stop it Before it Starts

Newsweek

Some families carry a genetic mutation that means they will develop Alzheimer’s at a young age. High risk families can start showing symptoms as early as their late 20s. With this new preventive approach, even partial success — an appreciable slowing of brain degeneration — could have a big impact, says Dr. Reisa Sperling, a neurologist who directs the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

FEB 15, 2017

Hormone therapy may not protect women from Alzheimer's disease new study shows

News-Medical.net

The latest study on hormone therapy and Alzheimer's disease shows no relationship between taking the drugs and whether you may develop the disease years later. Some previous studies have shown that hormone therapy may increase the risk of the disease, while others have shown that it may reduce the risk. The new study was published in the February 15, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

FEB 10, 2017

Do You Have Alzheimer's — or Just Regular Forgetfulness?

Men's Health

Unlike other serious conditions like cancer — which you can literally see with biopsies — there is no way to definitively prove Alzheimer’s while you’re still alive. Instead, doctors use comprehensive evaluation tools to reach a diagnosis. And that’s an intensive process that can take months or even years, causing frustration and potentially delaying helpful treatments

Physician Review By:

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
September 2015