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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

  • Sep 11, 2018
Cardiovascular Health and Brain Heath: Lifelong Connection

Two studies published in August in JAMA highlight and clarify the connection between heart health and brain health, especially the risk of dementia. They add to the evidence supporting promotion of cardiovascular health in adults of all ages to help lower the risk of dementia and cognitive decline and provide more support for adopting a healthy lifestyle.

  • 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.

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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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SEPT 21, 2018

5 Common Questions About Alzheimer's Answered

Today.com

Early detection is said to be the best defense against illness. That is especially true when you are dealing with something like Alzheimer's disease, which currently has no cure. In honor of World Alzheimer’s Day today and the 5.7 million Americans living with the disease, Dr. John Torres, an NBC News medical correspondent, sat down with Harvard neurologist Rudolph Tanzi to discuss common questions about Alzheimer's and offer tips on how to protect yourself against the deadly disease.

SEPT 21, 2018

CDC: Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia Cases To Double by 2060

USA Today

The number of people projected to have Alzheimer's disease or dementia in the United States is expected to double by 2060, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In 2014, there were 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's or dementia. The CDC estimates by 2060, that number will grow to 13.9 million.

SEPT 19, 2018

So THAT's the Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia

HuffPost

Dementia is an umbrella term for many different conditions ― including Alzheimer’s. Dementia can sum up many different brain-related conditions and should be thought of more as a syndrome rather than a disease. Within this group is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for more than 50 percent of dementia diagnoses, according to Elise Caccappolo, associate professor of neuropsychology and director of the Neuropsychology Service at Columbia University Medical Center. And while the causes of Alzheimer’s are a little tricky to pinpoint (more on that below), age can be a big factor.