There is a growing consensus among neurobiologists that says that treatment for Alzheimer’s needs to begin and be tested as soon as possible, even before symptoms arise. However, it can be hard to identify Alzheimer’s until it is too late. But, this could be changing.
Researchers at one university in the country may have found a way to identify Alzheimer’s disease in people long before the symptoms begin to show.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that they can measure levels of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta in the blood. The test also can predict whether the protein has or will accumulate in the brain.
When the amyloid levels are examined along with other major Alzheimer’s risk factors, including a genetic variant and age, people with brain changes can be identified with 94 percent accuracy.
“Right now we screen people for clinical trials with brain scans, which is time-consuming and expensive, and enrolling participants takes years,” said senior author Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology.
“But with a blood test, we could potentially screen thousands of people a month. That means we can more efficiently enroll participants in clinical trials, which will help us find treatments faster, and could have an enormous impact on the cost of the disease as well as the human suffering that goes with it.”
The test uses a specific technique to precisely measure the amounts of two forms of amyloid beta in the blood. The ratio between the two forms will drop as the amount of amyloid beta deposits in the brain rises.
What You Can Do
If you believe that you or a loved one may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease there are a number of things that you can do. For one, simply going to the doctor and telling them this will put you in a better position than you are now. A doctor will put you or your loved one through a few tests to assess memory and thinking skills. Brain imaging through an MRI or CT scan will likely also be required.
There are also tests that you can take to identify if you have the gene variant, APOE. This type of genetic test can help determine if you or a loved one is at risk of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. It aims to see whether the gene has been inherited and you will go on to develop dementia.
Treatment For Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex and damaging disease and, at the moment, there is no cure for the disease. However, current approaches to help with Alzheimer’s disease are focused on maintaining mental function and managing behavioral symptoms. Essentially, current treatment is aimed at slowing the progression of the disease.
Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can help provide patients with comfort and independence for a longer period of time. They can also help caregivers as well.
Medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors are sometimes prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs can be used to help control behavioral symptoms and can be helpful for improving or slowing the deterioration of memory and thinking.
Other common behavioral symptoms that medication can be used to manage include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, aggression, restlessness, and depression.
The Mayo Clinic also lists a number of alternative medicine options. While none of these options will cure the problem, they may help to delay any issues that you may have.
Some Treatments Include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids — These acids can be found in fish or supplements and may help lower the risk of developing dementia but they have shown no benefit for treating Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Vitamin E — While vitamin E isn’t effective for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, taking supplemental vitamin E can help to delay the progression in people who already have the disease.
Along with these alternative methods of treatment, there are a number of other things that you can do to improve your situation. For example, regular exercise is a normal and important part of most treatment plans. Simple activities like a daily walk can help to improve mood and maintain the health of joints, muscles, and the cardiovascular system.
Along with exercise, getting a healthy diet is important for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Many seniors may lose interest in preparing meals and may forget to eat or drink. Because of this, you need to ensure that your loved one who has Alzheimer’s is getting the proper fuel that they need. One solution to this is high-calorie, healthy shakes and smoothies. It is also good to avoid beverages with caffeine, as these can increase restlessness and interfere with sleep.
Alzheimer’s is a serious issue and if not treated as such, it can lead to a major drop in quality of life for those patients. Learning more about diagnosis and treatment option will give patients and loved ones the chance to slow symptoms and improve quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a serious degenerative disease that affects millions of older individuals. Alzheimer’s and dementia affect memory, learning, cognitive function, and more. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s can get in the way of independent living and this issue can make it difficult and even dangerous for patients to live on their own.
Landmark Senior Living is one organization that is dedicated to providing senior citizens with the quality care that they deserve at this stage in their life. Landmark can help patients with whatever specific problems that they may be dealing with. For instance, Landmark Senior Living has a memory care unit in place to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. If you are interested in learning more about Landmark Senior Living in New Mexico and how we can help, please check out our website and reach out to schedule a free tour of one of our facilities.