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Displaying items by tag: alzheimers disease

Clinical trials are a form of medical research involving people instead of lab animals. They're the most effective way to evaluate how well a new medical intervention works. The scientists in any new medical breakthrough have to prove their treatment's safety and efficacy in laboratory tests before Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve a clinical trial.

On the last day of November and National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, I'm going to squeeze in one more article about Azlheimer's disease, and talk about the importance of clinical trials in finding new treatments and possible cures for Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials

Alzheimer's disease is fatal in 100 percent of cases, and there is currently no cure. While a lot of research has been done, and we know a whole lot more about the disease than we did 20 years ago, we're still missing the crucial piece: a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.

The Alzheimer's Association has the ambitious goal of no less than ending Alzheimer's. To further that goal, they sponsor dozens of studies and trials every year. Here's what the Alzheimer's Association has to say about clinical trials:

"Without clinical trials, there can be no better treatments, no prevention and no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Scientists work constantly to find enhanced ways to treat diseases, but improved treatments can never become a reality without testing in clinical trials with human volunteers."

Clinical trials are not merely shooting in the dark to find an effective treatment or cure. The FDA only approves a clinical trial to begin recruiting participants when the researchers have shown strong evidence that their new therapy will be at least as effective as the currently available treatments. The scientists also subject their new treatment to rigorous safety tests to make sure it is safe for trial on people.

Every clinical study, even if it fails, advances our knowledge of the disease, its causes, and future cure.

Risks and Benefits of Joining Clinical Trials

If you or your loved one has Alzheimer's disease, you may be leery about the idea of joining a clinical trial. You're concerned about undergoing treatment that might not work, and you're even more worried about possible side effects. 

There are benefits and risks of participating in any clinical trial, and the known risks will be clearly spelled out in the trial's information packet. 

Here are some benefits of participating in a clinical trial:

  • You'll get a new treatment that's not available to the public.
  • You may receive more frequent check-ups as part of the treatment.
  • You'll have access to top-notch doctors and medical care.
  • You may get more information about the disease, support groups, and resources.

Clinical trials definitely do have risks associated with them. Here are some risks you should be aware of, brought to us by the National Institue on Aging:

  • The new treatment may cause serious side effects.
  • The new treatment may not work or it may not be better than the standard treatment.
  • You may NOT be part of the treatment group (or experimental group) that gets the new treatment—for example, a new drug or device. Instead, you may be part of the control group, which means you get the standard treatment or a no-treatment placebo.
  • The clinical trial could inconvenience you. For example, medical appointments could take a lot of time or you might be required to stay overnight or a few days in the hospital.

If you're unsure about joining a specific Alzheimer's clinical trial, speak with your doctor for a full examination of the risks and benefits.



Most of us have been there. We’ve misplaced our car keys, or forgotten the name of the new receptionist at the doctor’s office.

Sometimes we laugh it off as “senior moments,” while other times we panic and assume it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and we’re just going to get worse.

Hopefully, this article will help you understand when a memory lapse is just a momentary issue, and when it’s cause for concern.

Here are the top 5 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Memory Loss

Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, but when it becomes so frequent or so severe that it disrupts daily life, that’s a sign that something is wrong.

Forgetting important dates or events like your birth date or Thanksgiving Day is one troubling sign. Other common early signs of Alzheimer’s are forgetting recently acquired information and  constantly needing things to be repeated.

Don’t worry: forgetting a name or an appointment from time to time is normal and expected, as long as you remember it later.

2. Difficulty with long-term planning and problem solving

Your loved one can’t follow a familiar recipe anymore, or is losing track of their regular bills? If they’ve previously managed these tasks just fine, this may be an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Monitor their ability to concentrate, work with numbers, and follow a plan to a successful conclusion. If they continue to have difficulty, take them for an evaluation.

Don’t worry: making a mistake when you’re balancing your checkbook every now and then is not a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Confusion, especially with time or place

Alzheimer’s disease causes intense confusion as it progresses. Early signs are losing track of dates and seasons, as well as the passage of time. It’s concerning if your loved one doesn’t understand when you tell them something will happen “in two weeks.”

Don’t worry: it’s normal to sometimes forget what day of the week it is and need to count backward to remember.

4. Lost ability to retrace steps

Usually when people misplace something, they can retrace their steps to find it. If you can no longer do that, or you find yourself putting things away in inappropriate places, you should get evaluated for dementia. This can happen more and more frequently as time passes.

Don’t worry: we all tend to misplace things when we’re distracted, and as long as you can find them most of the time, you’re okay.

5. Social withdrawal

As daily life gets harder and once familiar tasks and hobbies become more difficult to keep up with, many people with early Alzheimer’s start withdrawing from the people and things they used to enjoy. They may or may not suspect why keeping up with life has suddenly become so difficult, so fear and/or depression may also play a part.

Changing moods and personalities is also an Alzheimer’s symptom, and can accelerate social withdrawal.

Don’t worry: sometimes feeling like you need a break from family or social obligations is normal, and not a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.


If you notice these signs of Alzheimer’s in an elderly loved one, or you’re experiencing them yourself, go for a medical examination immediately.

Keep in mind that lack of sleep, stress, and some illnesses can also cause these symptoms. If you are under age 65 and find yourself constantly forgetting important information, misplacing items, and making mistakes, rule out the other possible causes.

Ask yourself: Are you not sleeping enough? Are you under a lot of stress? Have you been feeling sick lately? Are you taking any medications that are known to cause dementia-like symptoms?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these, first try resolving those problems and see if your symptoms go away.

If you’re ever unsure about your symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

To continue our coverage of Alzheimer's disease this month, we're going to talk about the risk factors of the disease.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, however there are medications available to reduce symptoms. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start these treatments and maintain your quality of life for as long as possible. Knowing you're at risk and keeping an eye out for the first symptoms can help you get a diagnosis early on. That gives you time to try the different available treatments, get your affairs in order, and make more memories with your loved one.

Are you at higher risk of Alzheimers' disease? Read on to find out.

Alzheimer's Disease Risk Factors

The first two risk factors are not really something you can control, and they're the two factors that are the most certain. They are:

  1. Age. Increasing age is the most significant risk factor of Alzheimer's disease. Most cases are diagnosed after age 65, and your risk of developing the disease doubles every five years past that. 
  2. Family history. Having a parent, brother, or sister with Alzheimer's makes you more likely to develop it yourself. Each additional family member with the disease increases your risk. When any disease runs in a family, it could be caused genetic or environmental factors—or both. When it comes to the hereditary factors, researchers have found genes that increase the risk of Alzheimer's. To learn more about genetic research into Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

Current Alzheimer's research indicates that Alzheimer's disease is caused by a mix of genes and other risk factors. These include:

  • traumatic brain or head injury
  • heart disease 
  • diabetes
  • history of stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

As you can see, there is a strong vascular connection to Alzheimer's disease. That's because the brain has a rich network of blood vessels that nourish our brain cells to keep our most vital organ going. Clearly, the best way to elminate this risk factor is to keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible. This involves maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Speak to your doctor for specific guidance based on your health and situation. 

You may have heard that aluminum exposure can cause Alzheimer's disease. This is a theory that emerged in the late 1960s as a possible cause of the disease. Studies on the subject have not found any connection between everyday aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's disease, so you can use your aluminum pans without any risk!

Remember that having all the risk factors does not mean you will develop a disease, nor does having none of the risk factors (except age) protect you from Alzheimer's disease. Risk factors just tell you that you have a higher chance of a specific disease, so you can try to reduce those factors you can actually change, and stay vigilent about signs and symptoms. 

In our next post, we'll talk about the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease—and what's just a part of normal aging.


November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, as designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. President Reagan is actually the president most associated with the debilitating disease for another reason: he was diagnosed with it in 1994.

That November, at the age of 83, President Reagan announced he was one of the millions of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. His announcement brought Alzheimer's disease, the irrversible and progressive neurological disease, into the public spotlight. 

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia—the progressive detioration of the brain. The general symptoms include loss of memory and other cognitive abilities. The effects of Alzheimer's are particularly severe, and always fatal. There is no cure for the disease.

The Alzheimer's Association, the leading organization pushing for a cure, says their vision is nothing less than a world without Alzheimer's. They support research and medical advancements against the disease. Thankds in part to their efforts, we know a lot about the mechanisms that contribute to the disease's development. It begins when two types of proteins—tangles and plaques—build up in the brain. Eventually, the disease kills off brain cells, robbing the person of first their memory, then their personality, and finally, their very selves.

We still don't know the direct causes of Alzheimer's, but we do know some of the possible risk factors. Your genes and lifestyle seem to be the biggest factors in whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. While you can't do anything about your genes, you can make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk as much as possible.

Lifestyle Choices to Improve Your Brain Health

Implementing healthy habits as early as possible can help keep Alzheimer's at bay. Consider making the following changes in your lifestyle:

  • Excercise. Exercising regularly is the single best thing you can do for your health. Many, many studies have proven that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer's. It can even slow the progression in people who are already showing symptoms of it. Older adults in good health should work out at least 30 minutes, three to four days a week. Aerobic exercises—work outs that dramatically raise your heart rate—provide the most benefits. If you have chronic health problems, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

  • Eat a healthy diet, specifically the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet consists of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, fish, moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy. Red meat, highly processed foods, and sugary treats are limited or consumed only sparingly. Much evidence exists to the powers of a Mediterranean-inspired diet for all areas of your health. Even partly following it can provide incredible benefits to your brain, your heart, and your entire body.

  • Get enough sleep. More and more evidence is showing that sleeping can help prevent Alzheimer's. This is because sufficient, good quality sleep helps clear more of the harmful protein from the brain, before it can build up to dangerous levels. Adults should aim for seven or eight hours of sleep each night. If you do get that much sleep, but find that you're still waking up tired, speak with your doctor. You may have a condition like sleep apnea, that not only causes sleep disturbances, but can also be very dangerous.

  • Stay connected and learn new things. While there is not enough hard evidence to make this a scientific recommendation, there is a strong correlation between isolation and Alzheimer's disease. Learning new things regularly, remaining socially active, and staying connected to the world around you can help you stay happy and emotionally well—and can possibly keep Alzheimer's at bay.

What Regency Health is Doing to Raise Awareness

As one of the top providers of long-term senior care in New Jersey, we are experts in Alzheimer's disease and dementia care. We are committed to providing the best care possible for all our patients, even—or especially—for those who no longer recognize their loved ones or remember their own name.

We see the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease every day, not only on the patient, but also on his or her family. In fact, the disease affects approximately 1 in every 2 families in the United States. That's a lot of people, and at Regency we're committed to raising awareness for Alzheimers. We do this by making sure our patients and their families always stay informed every step of the journey. And this month, we will also dedicate every article on this blog to a different facet of Alzheimer's disease.

We encourage you to share our posts to raise awareness during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month






I just came across a fantastic article from David Surico writing for McKnight's

New method predicts Alzheimer's in two-year window

A new study has led to a breakthrough in the process to identify people who will fall victim to Alzheimer's disease.

The research predicted with 90% accuracy which mild cognitive impairment sufferers would develop Alzheimer's disease within two years. Findings were published in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The combination of brain imaging analysis and a neuropsychological assessment allowed the team to uncover which subjects would develop Alzheimer's and those who would not. Sylvie Belleville, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, an institution affiliated with Université de Montréal, led the study.

Read more.

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