How much do you know about Alzheimer's dementia?

Discover some common early symptoms and signs of Alzheimer's dementia

Categories: For Potential Participants, [Alzheimer's Disease, Alzheimer's clinical trials, Alzheimer's diagnosis, Alzheimer's disease clinical trials]

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether memory problems are a natural, normal part of aging or something more concerning.

More than 9 out of 10 adults in the United States believe that Alzheimer’s disease is a serious problem, according to a recent study. The same study found that more than 68% of people know someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another disease that causes cognitive decline.

Despite this awareness, many of us are less familiar with some of the key characteristics of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Diagnosing cognitive conditions, and determining the type, can be challenging. Diagnosis often requires a multistep approach in which other explanations for symptoms are ruled out (stress, fatigue, or other factors).

Maybe you can relate to having “senior moments” on occasion, but how can you tell what is normal aging versus Alzheimer’s dementia? A key difference is whether the memory loss disrupts daily life.

Some of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s dementia include:

  • forgetting recently learned information
  • difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • forgetting important dates or events
  • confusion with time or place
  • asking for the same information over and over.

Typical age-related memory changes include:

  • forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later
  • misplacing things and retracing steps to find them
  • getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later
  • sometimes having trouble finding the right word
  • making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

Currently, there are no available treatments to stop Alzheimer’s dementia progression, but disease symptoms can be managed with early diagnosis and treatment (medications, cognitive training, and therapy). In a large, 10-year, randomized controlled trial, a specific type of brain training lowered dementia risk in healthy older adults by up to 29%. Called "speed of processing,” this computer-based brain training involved participants identifying objects at the center of a computer screen while at the same time identifying a target in the periphery. This type of cognitive training is available online from BrainHQ. Another recently completed study demonstrated that intensive blood pressure treatment may help reduce new cases of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia.

Current medications for Alzheimer's dementia can help mask the symptoms, but do not treat the underlying disease or delay its progression. That's why more clinical research is needed, as well as clinical trial participants.

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