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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

  • May 18, 2018
Positive Beliefs about Aging May Help Lower Risk of Dementia

Facing the challenges of aging, including the potential for declines in memory and thinking skills, can be difficult for many people, especially in a society that often doesn’t value age. But having positive beliefs about aging can lower a person’s risk of dementia, according to a new study.

  • Jan 04, 2018
Researchers Identifying New Ways to Detect Alzheimer’s

As many as half of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias have not been diagnosed, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

  • Nov 30, 2017
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Linked to Changes in Medication Use Among People with Serious Mental Illness

People with serious mental illness exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of medications are more likely to stop taking their medications than those not exposed to the advertising, according to new research published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

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Find a Free Memory Screening
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Alzheimer's Foundation of America

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

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.

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Editor's Choice

MAY 8 2018

New Retinal Changes on OCT Angiography May Flag Early Alzheimer's

Medscape

"Changes in the visual system, and the eye itself, can parallel changes in the brain, and are more easily detected with some of the tools we use every day in clinic," Van Stavern told Medscape Medical News.

MAY 6, 2018

Alzheimer's Cure is Being Pursued with the Help of an Online Game

Washington Post

 Want to cure Alzheimer’s? Get in line. Researchers have long been puzzled by the disease and vexed by how long it’s taking to unravel its mysteries.
One group of scientists is helping speed up that process with assistance from the public. “Stall Catchers,” a game created by the Human Computation Institute in Ithaca, N.Y., turns the hunt for a cure from frustrating to fun.

APR 29 2018

Music activates regions of the brain spared by Alzheimer's disease

Science Daily

Researchers are looking to the salience network of the brain to develop music-based treatments to help alleviate anxiety in patients with dementia.