Dr. Kumar Rajan, associate professor of internal medicine, and his colleagues at Rush University Medical Center tested over 2,000 seniors (without dementia) for 18 years to determine if there was a pattern to those who develop Alzheimer’s. Based on their sample, the 21% of elders who went on to develop Alzheimer’s had evidence of cognitive abnormalities leading back to the first tests they took.
The study tracked 2,125 people whose age averaged 73 – none had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Every three years (in the 18 year-long study), the researchers would administer a mental skills test to track their cognitive ability. Not surprisingly, many participants whose scores continued to decline every three years were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, the interesting factor was, their decline could be detected based on the first two tests alone.
Due to the pattern of decline, the study implies that we may be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s 18 years before symptoms actually occur! Of course, one study of 2,000 seniors is hardly enough evidence to be considered conclusive… but it is worth the continued research.
Early Detection for Alzheimers Disease
Early detection for this debilitating disease is crucial to senior health. The earlier this disease is detected, the more you can do to slow the progression without losing yourself completely.
Alzheimer’s Disease has no cure and is not reversible. The best we can do is slow its progression and the best way to do that is to detect it as early as possible so it doesn’t spread. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are manifold, but among the most detrimental are memory loss, mood swings, and loss of language. People with severe dementia exhibit these symptoms and many family members admit to not even recognizing their elders because their entire personality changes (once they’ve lost their memory).
It’s devastating and many people agree the hard part about losing your senior to Alzheimer’s is you lose them before they ever pass away.
Being able to detect Alzheimers earlier means we can preserve our seniors and take the necessary steps to help combat the disease: the right nutrition, the right exercise (yoga), the right mental tests – many of which have proven to slow Alzheimers by keeping the brain active.
For many seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it will be necessary to find them memory care. For seniors whose dementia has already progressed to the more severe stages, this responsibility falls solely on their adult children who, not only dread making these decisions, but don’t know how to communicate them to their elderly parent. When you loved one is diagnosed early however, it’s a talk you can have with them with less apprehension since they understand and can communicate their needs and wants.