Alzheimer's / dementia NEws





As numerous clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s Disease have failed, researcher have posited that early detection and treatment may be necessary to achieve clinically meaningful improvements. To this end, the National Institute of Aging and Alzheimer’s Association created and Amyloid, Tau and Cortical Thickness (ATN) scoring system that uses imaging-based biomarkers to estimate dementia risk. In  the group, ATN biomarkers had a significant but moderate impact in predicting memory decline compared to a clinical model. Patients that were A+T+N+, A+T+N-, and A+T-N+ had more rapid memory decline than other groups. However, the marginal increase in the predictive power suggests that these biomarkers may still not be optimal for understanding risk associated with AD- related memory loss.


May 2019: Next Avenue

In an article that looks at the progress made in the last ten years in treatments for Alzheimer’s, it is noted that progress has not been recorded. According to thoughts of many, the lack of funding forced researchers to concentrate all their efforts on what was thought to be the best theory of Alzheimer’s which was that a build-up of beta-amyloid plaques and tangles are the main brain changes in the disease. Efforts to find drugs to combat these plaques has not proven and in fact, companies are pulling back drug development.


There is some concentration on lifestyle changes as a means of prevention and a whole host of theories are being looked at for possible testing as funding is increasing. All this while the rate of dementia deaths has more than doubled in the past decade.


The Conversation

Alzheimer’s disease: have we got the cause all wrong?

The dominant theory of the cause of Alzheimer’s has rested on beta-amyloid plaque. The clumping together somehow damages the nerve cells in the brain which leads to memory loss and other symptoms. The approach should be straightforward – stop the clumping and you will halt the disease. Unfortunately, this approach has not worked. While drugs have cleared the plaques, the disease has not been eliminated.

In an interesting twist, even while few neuroscientists still subscribe to the view that it’s the beta-amyloid Alzheimer’s disease, at a recent UK conference there was near universal agreement that it is time to separate the concept of Alzheimer’s disease from dementia.  The idea that plaques may exist but that it may not necessarily lead to dementia merely serves to confuse rather than enlighten.

Journal of the American Medical Association

Results of a recent study suggest that a healthy diet dose not reduce the risk of demntia. There was no marked decrease in the onset of dementia between the 30% of participants who struck to a healthy diet of  fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes along with unsaturated fats and the 30% with a poor diet who regularly consumed red-meat and ate sugar-rich foods. This is an observational study and does not prove cause and effect.

Open Minds:

So what is working?

There is focus on prevention  - aerobic and mental exercise as effective treatments. Opportunities for community based services are essential. Care coordination programs to manage comorbidities are critical. Until there are new pharmaceutical interventions available, it will be up to long term care organizations to serve consumers with dementia.



​Association of Mature American Citizens

Surveys conducted over the past several years suggest that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease sparks terror in the hearts of patients, families and friends more so that just about any other fatal or chronic illness. In fact a Marist Poll conducted in 2012 concluded that AD was America’s most feared illness.

Unfortunately, this has spurred the development of a new class of scammers who target seniors with concoctions that claim to cure or even reverse the disease.

But the news is encouraging. Progress is being made in the medical community on ways to deal with the disease. For example there is work in the area of blood flow to the brain, there is work in regeneration of damaged neurons using a drug cocktail working on glial cells.


University of Waterloo

Challenges of dementia diagnosis can be compounded by feeling of isolation and loneliness when families and friends stop visiting because they don’t know what to say or do. This social isolation has negative health outcomes including depression.

Experts recommend that you try not to make assumptions about what they can and cannot do. Too often control is taken away from a person once they have a diagnosis of dementia. Patients should be involved in decisions where possible. They should be treated with dignity and respect. Many people are suggesting we shift our languet=e to say a person is living with dementia rather than suffering from dementia.  We need to learn to accommodate the individual’s change in perception instead of asking them to navigate our world and do things the way they used to do.