Archive for the ‘Alzheimer’s Disease’ Category

1. It’s quick and free.

2. The test can identify at-risk individuals.

3. It can motivate you to make positive lifestyle changes.

Dr. Douglas Scharre and his colleagues at Ohio State University Medical Center have developed a handwritten test to help measure cognitive abilities in older adults.

The self test, SAGE for short, tests parts of the brain linked to certain known functions. For example, identifying pictures and doing simple calculations test language and math skills, both left brain functions. Copying geometrical designs tests the right brain, and other questions test memory. The test takes about 10-15 minutes and does not require professional assistance.The test is available as a free download that can be printed out so anyone, even those without a computer or simply not comfortable with computer-based tests can take it as a handwritten test. Because it can identify, with a high degree of accuracy, an “at-risk” person early on, the test is useful for encouraging those people to seek additional evaluation by their doctor.

Perhaps the best reason to take the test is because it may motivate you, if your score is less than perfect, to make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent or slow further mental decline. Just as a high blood pressure reading can prompt many to exercise and change their diet, this test could encourage people to take brain-boosting supplements, improve their diet, or exercise more frequently. In a study, Dr. Scharre found 80 percent of those with mild thinking or memory issues could be identified by the SAGE test, while 95 percent of those with normal thinking and memory abilities have normal scores.

It’s important to note that this test, as well as other self-administered tests, is an assessment tool, and a poor score does not mean you have dementia. If your score is low, you should talk to your doctor about further diagnostic evaluation. Your primary care doctor can refer you to a specialist, often a neurologist, who can test further to determine the reason for your low score. Even a simple vitamin B12 deficiency or the side effects of many prescription medications can affect your thinking and memory.

Many with cognitive issues are either embarrassed to discuss them with their doctor, or don’t think it’s a problem. (“If I ignore it, it will go away. I hope.”) A self-test such as the SAGE test allows those folks to find out if they may be having cognitive problems in just a few minutes.

In Alzheimer`s the mind dies first: Names, dates, places-the interior scrapbook of an entire life-fade into mists of nonrecognition.

 Matt Clark

Retired physicians tend to give out a lot of free advice. We are easy to get a hold of, and the price is right(and worth every penny). Yesterday I got a extraordinary provocative and disturbing call. A friend of a friend was concerned he was developing Alzheimer’s disease, and wanted to know if there was anything he could do. Alzheimer’s disease is now defined as progressive loss of intellectual and social skills severe enough to impact day to day life. It is the most common form of dementia, and has a huge impact upon our medical and financial resources. The disease also has a devastating impact upon the family of those afflicted, emotionally and financially. Over the next few decades, the cost of taking care of these unfortunate individuals will be in the trillions of dollars.

There are no definitive tests for Alzheimer’s disease. Although some research using biomarkers and brain imaging studies show some promise, the diagnosis remains a clinical one. Doctors measure degree of cognitive loss, particularly over time. Progressive loss of function in someone of the right age leads to the diagnose. About 500,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year, and these patients will incur costs three times that of similar patients without the disease.

What differentiates Alzheimer’s from other diseases is that no cure or effective treatment exists, which is the source of the conundrum. What do you do if you think you are developing Alzheimer’s? One could lose everything that makes someone who they are, their mind, their memories, their ability to love and work. Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s can become a 24/7 endeavor, essentially destroying the life of the caregiver as well.

However, if a test to detect the disease early was developed, would you want to know? Research into diagnosing Alzheimer’s is advancing more quickly than therapies. I am deeply conflicted about whether these tests should be performed. Those who test negative for the disease will be deeply relieved, which will certainly be of some benefit. However, for those with a positive diagnosis, inducing depression and suicide may be the primary outcome. False positive tests, an inevitable complication, are even more troublesome. How could a doctor live with giving someone an incorrect diagnosis that lead to a suicide? I don’t think I could.

So what do I say to the friend of my friend who is worried about early Alzheimer’s? I wish I knew.

Alzheimer – My mother’s mind has taken a turn for the worst (80 yrs old). She rambles a lot about her siblings and parents who are gone. She is physically healthy but mentally, a little out of touch. My sister (caregiver) is awesome! When my Mother, Aunt (78) and sister visited, I tried very hard to give my sister a break. I cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for them every day, hoping that my organic way of eating would magically make things better. I couldn’t leave my mother alone for fear that she would fall or panic when she forgot where she was which was constant.

One day, I was sitting at the computer as she walked out of the kitchen area to the back doors; she reached for the key (in the place where we were hiding it) unlocked the door and went outside. I jumped to my feet and followed her to ensure that she didn’t fall down the steps or walk off or whatever. She found the broom, and swept the backyard. Her mind was great for about an hour after she swept, we sat on the patio, talked about the flowers and just laughed and enjoyed the day. She kept saying; it is such a beautiful day. For that time, she knew who she was, where she was, who I was and…, that her mind was bad. We talked about her condition and then we prayed about it. She said she knew she was blessed but she just wished she could get a handle on her memory. It was sad but wonderful. I am so grateful for that time.

I told one of my daughters, that if I get where Big Ma is, that she should put me in a home, with a garden, where I can receive professional care from people who go home after work. I suggested that they just come to visit. However, I also said, put me, Dad and my best buddies, in the same place (smile), if we still have long-term memory, we will have a blast! She said, okay mama, and just shook her head.

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In the meantime, I will continue to eat organic foods that will help to continually detoxify my body, enjoy fun exercise, socialize, and stay close to God. I am convinced that, the reason diseases like Alzheimer did not ravish our grandparents and great grandparents is because of the foods that they ate, the exercise that was a part of their daily routine, and their mental peace. In my experience, eating organically, participating in fun exercising, socializing regularly, and a spiritual relationship, will help keep our mind, body and soul healthy. Organically grown food taste better, cleanses your system, and does not create a hunger for more food, which promotes obesity (one woman’s opinion). I am encouraging everyone to eat better food, exercise, socialize and pray.

Can diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease be as easy as having a test on your eyes? The answer to that question is yes. Recently it was discovered that the same amyloid protein found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients can also be found in the lens and fluid of the eyes during the early stages of the disease. This finding is important because it makes it possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s in the early stages of the disease which, until now, doctors have not been able to do.

Over 4.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease which is the most frequent kind of dementia in the elderly. Initially symptoms present as mild forgetfulness or confusion. Sometimes the person may forget recent activities they have participated in. They may even struggle to recall the name of everyday items. These symptoms are often dismissed by friends and family as normal for an aging person. As the disease worsens, memory loss interferes with daily living to the point where round the clock care is needed.

What if we could diagnose Alzheimer’s in the early stages when treatment could help slow the progression of the disease? There are new drugs available and being utilized to treat Alzheimer’s patients which are capable of slowing the disease. An early diagnosis is crucial to patients because it could add years of productive living to their lives.

That is what Dr. Lee Goldstein with the Department of Psychiatry and Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston hopes to do. The psychiatrist has developed two optical tests that can detect amyloid proteins in the lens of the eyes. These proteins create a specific type of cataract found in a different part of the eye than normal cataracts. The cataract looks like a hazy semicircle of particles on the lens of the eye. The first test establishes if a cataract is associated with Alzheimer’s or not. First, fluorescence drops which can attach to the amyloid proteins are injected into the eye. Then an infrared light is utilized to see if the proteins glow. Glowing proteins mean Alzheimer’s. The second test, utilizes an interior laser ophthalmoscope to detect protein molecules which are present prior to the formation of cataracts. Similar to the method used on cataracts, protein molecules are detected by injecting a light-sensitive dye into the part of the eye lens where the cataracts are typically found. If the Alzheimer’s protein molecules are present, the dye will attach to the molecules and they will glow. This method is called quasi-elastic light scattering.

No one knows what causes Alzheimer’s, and currently there is no cure. What we do know is the current ways of detecting the disease through MRIs and PET scans happen once changes in the brain have taken place which is in the later stages of the disease. The new optical tests provide hope that there will be a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s much earlier when treatment will make the biggest impact.