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Help With Alzheimer's Disease

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is one of the most common forms of dementia, a group of symptoms that lead to a decline in mental function severe enough to disrupt daily life. Alzheimer’s causes problems with a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.

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  • Jul 15, 2019
Sense of Smell, Memories and Emotions

Many people have had the experience of a familiar smell bringing up a memory or a feeling. That is just one of several ways our sense of smell is associated with mental health and emotions. Memories associated with a specific odor may be particularly strong. In writing about the relation of these odor-evoked memories to our mental health, psychologist Rachel Herz, Ph.D., concludes that “from numerous perspectives it is evident that the autobiographical memories and emotional associations that are triggered by odors are essential to our psychological and physiological health.”

  • Jun 03, 2019
How to Help When Dementia Leads to Agitation

Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem affecting around 50 million people around the world, according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report.  It is a major cause of disability and dependency among adults, often causing significant caregiving and financial stress on families. People with dementia may develop agitation or psychosis which can be very challenging for caregivers. Agitation is a state of excessive physical movement or aggression associated with emotional distress.  

  • Mar 18, 2019
Pet Robots Helping Dementia Patients

We increasingly hear of robots taking over humans’ jobs, but could robots fill in for dogs in pet therapy? Pet robots are increasingly being used in assisted living facilities and day care centers to help patients with dementia.

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Alzheimer’s Association

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Find a Free Memory Screening
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Alzheimer's Foundation of America

I understand there are medications that can help with Alzheimer’s. Are there medications that actually help slow memory loss? Are they appropriate for everyone with Alzheimer’s?

There are no medications available today which slow memory loss over an extended period of time. The medications approved for Alzheimer’s have been shown in controlled studies to slow memory loss over a few months, but after 6-12 months, memory decline in those who take the medications is similar to those who do not take the medications. New drugs are being studied, and hopefully one or more will demonstrate a clear ability to reduce or stop the decline in memory impairment (we should not expect any of the drugs to restore memory loss). More

My father-in-law is experiencing some memory problems. At what point should he seek help?

It is always a good plan to have your father-in-law examined by an experienced geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist when signs of memory loss emerge. The reason is that memory loss may not be due to Alzheimer’s or another irreversible dementia. Medications, an acute illness, or even a brain tumor may be causing the problem. Nevertheless, over the long run for the vast majority of persons with memory loss, it is important to monitor function carefully. Occasional forgetfulness, such as forgetting names, is not a major problem. Yet when the older adult begins to leave the stove on, repeatedly loses his car keys and cannot locate them, cannot keep up with usual personal business (such as banking) or cannot find his way home driving from a familiar place, then help (often from a social worker) is most important to maintain independent living as long as possible. Alzheimer’s support groups are found in most communities and they can be of great assistance to people with Alzheimer’s and their families. You can start with your state or local office on aging or a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. More

My mom has memory problems that are really impacting her life, but she’s refusing to seek evaluation or help. What can we do?

In such situations, I will revert to the “family conference.” In such a setting, all significant members of the family (spouse if living, children, siblings) meet alone first and agree on the significance of the problem and what needs to be done with the assistance of a social worker who is skilled in the day-to-day management of memory problems. A plan is devised. Then the family meets with the older adult and as a group virtually insists that the older adult seek help, if not for her sake, then for the sake of the family. Have an appointment already set up. Have at least two family members go with the older adult to the evaluation and make certain that the family (in the presence of the older adult) express to the clinician the problems that have been noticed. This approach works most of the time IF the family is in agreement and speaks as one voice. More

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About the Expert:

Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor in Community and Family Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Roger’s Story

Roger, a 71-year-old man, was referred to a psychiatrist by his primary care doctor for symptoms of depression that had not responded to medication. Roger’s wife reported that he had begun to change at age 68, about a year after his retirement. He had stopped playing golf and cards, which he had enjoyed for decades. He no longer looked forward to going out of the house, and he refused to socialize. Instead, he sat on the couch all day and watched TV or napped. His wife said he was sleeping 10-13 hours a day instead of his normal seven hours.

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APR 8 2019

Gum Bacteria Implicated in Alzheimer's and Other Diseases

Medical Xpress

Researchers are reporting new findings on how bacteria involved in gum disease can travel throughout the body, exuding toxins connected with Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and aspiration pneumonia. They detected evidence of the bacteria in brain samples from people with Alzheimer's and used mice to show that the bacterium can find its way from the mouth to the brain.

APR 6, 2019

Some Much-Needed 'Me Time': Caregivers Learn, Destress at Alzheimer's Symposium

New Jersey Record

According to Linda Lohsen, director of the Center for Healthy Living at Holy Name, a day dedicated to educating caregivers on how to care for themselves is well overdue, especially for the black community. There are more than 15 million Americans who care for a person with Alzheimer’s; 62 percent are women and 61 percent rate the emotional stress of caregiving as “high or very high.” brain.

MAR 15, 2019

Light and sound stimulus therapy generates a buzz in Alzheimer's research world

LA Times

The often-discouraging search for ways to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease may have flickered to life this week with a bright new idea — and a buzzy new soundtrack as well. In experiments conducted on mice, scientists used light and sound to orchestrate a series of episodes that were marked by an unusual state of electronic synchrony inside the animals’ brains. Prompted by a gently flickering light and a pulsating buzz — both timed to fire 40 times per second — their brains began to hum to the same frequency.