FAQs

What is the function of the Alzheimer’s Research Association?

We are an organization dedicated to helping the caregivers of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. It is our mission to get you the right information, and keep you up to date on everything in the Alzheimer’s world. We are devoted to making your caregiving experience as easy and as rewarding as possible.

The Alzheimer’s Research Association does not intend for our organization to be in competition with the various organizations that dedicate themselves to the race for a cure, but to complement them by focusing our efforts on the caregiver.

What is translational research and why is it an important part of Alzheimer’s disease research?

Translational research creates a bridge between basic research and clinical research, allowing knowledge from the laboratory to be applied as quickly as possible to new clinical tests or interventions. In fact, translational research is where new drugs, devices, or behavioral interventions aimed at preventing, diagnosing, or treating a disease such as Alzheimer’s are actually created. Translational research makes it possible for scientists who conduct basic research on Alzheimer’s to work more closely with experts whose focus is on treating people. This collaboration is important to developing safe and effective treatments.

What is basic research and why is it an important part of Alzheimer’s disease research?

Basic biomedical research involves studies at the most fundamental level. It is research that helps scientists gain new knowledge about a disease process, including how and why it starts and progresses. Scientists who conduct basic research on Alzheimer’s disease study the cellular and molecular processes that cause nerve cells in the brain to stop functioning and die. Basic research also looks at the role that genes may play in lowering or increasing a person’s risk of developing the disease. The aim of basic research is to identify the processes that lead to Alzheimer’s in order to discover therapies to fight it.

Are there any drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease?

No treatment can stop Alzheimer’s disease. However, four drugs are used to treat symptoms of the disease. They may help maintain thinking, memory, and speaking skills and help with some behavioral problems for a limited time. These drugs work by regulating certain chemicals in the brain.

For people with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, donepezil (Aricept®), rivastigmine (Exelon®), or galantamine (Razadyne®) may help prevent some symptoms from becoming worse for a limited time. Donepezil is also approved for symptoms of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. Another drug, memantine (Namenda®), is used to treat symptoms of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, although it is also limited in its effects.

All of these drugs have possible side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. You should report any unusual symptoms to a doctor right away. It is important to follow a doctor’s instructions when taking any medication.

What are the stages in the development of Alzheimer’s disease?

The course of Alzheimer’s disease — which symptoms appear and how quickly changes occur — varies from person to person. In general, though, the disease develops slowly and follows the same mild, moderate, and severe stages.

At first, the only symptom may be forgetfulness. People with mild Alzheimer’s may be unable to remember recent events, ask the same question over and over, and become lost in familiar places. A person may seem healthy but is actually having more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. Such difficulties could be due to Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. A doctor should be consulted to make a diagnosis.

As the disease goes on, memory gets worse. People may have problems recognizing family and friends. It can be hard to learn new things. People in this moderate stage of Alzheimer’s may behave differently, too. For example, they might be restless, agitated, or angry, or they may wander.

As Alzheimer’s disease becomes more severe, people lose the ability to communicate. They may sleep more, lose weight, and have trouble swallowing. Often they cannot control their bladder and bowel. Eventually, they need total care.

How long do people live after getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?

The time from diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to the end of life varies, and can be as little as three years if the person is over 80 years old when diagnosed, or as long as ten years—or more—if the person is younger than 80 when diagnosed.

How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

Today, the only definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in brain tissue. To look at brain tissue, doctors perform a brain autopsy, which is an examination of the brain done after a person dies.

Doctors can only make a diagnosis of “possible” or “probable” Alzheimer’s disease while a person is alive. Doctors with special training can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease correctly up to 90 percent of the time. These include board-certified geriatricians, geriatric psychiatrists, and neurologists. (A geriatrician specializes in treatment of older adults, and a neurologist specializes in brain and nervous system disorders.)

Doctors use several tools to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease:

  • a complete medical history, with questions about the person’s general health, past medical problems, family health, and any difficulties carrying out daily activities
  • medical tests, such as tests of blood, urine, or spinal fluid
  • tests to measure memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language skills
  • brain scans that allow the doctor to look at a picture of the brain to see if anything does not look normal
Is misplacing your keys a normal part of aging or a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease?

Misplacing your keys could be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their keys. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems.

Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and may be mistaken for dementia. Some health issues, such as medication side effects, vitamin B12 deficiency, chronic alcoholism, tumors, and blood clots in the brain can cause memory loss or possibly dementia. A doctor should treat medical conditions like these as soon as possible.

What is typically the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease?

The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease typically is mild forgetfulness. People with mild Alzheimer’s may have trouble remembering recent events or take longer than before to finish a task. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. A person may seem healthy but is actually having more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. Such difficulties could be due to Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. A doctor should be consulted to make a diagnosis.

Is there anything I can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently, there are no treatments, drugs, or pills that can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but people can take some steps that may reduce their risk. These steps include the following:

  • lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
  • controlling diabetes
  • being physically active
  • eating a healthy diet
  • engaging in activities that stimulate the mind

More studies are being done to see which health and lifestyle factors directly affect the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Many of these factors are known to lower the risk for other diseases and help maintain and improve overall well-being, so they are good to do anyway.

If a family member has Alzheimer’s disease, will I get it, too?

Just because a family member has Alzheimer’s disease does not mean that you will get it, too. There is a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease, called early-onset familial Alzheimer’s, which is inherited. Early-onset familial Alzheimer’s occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 60 and is caused by mutations, or changes, in certain genes. Most cases of Alzheimer’s are late-onset. They occur after age 60 and usually have no obvious family pattern. However, genetic factors do appear to increase a person’s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. For most people, there probably is not one single cause, but several genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that affect each person differently. Increasing age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic diseases (heart disease and diabetes), diet, exercise, and social engagement may also play a role in whether or not a person develops Alzheimer’s.

What changes in the brain happen to people with Alzheimer’s disease?

People with Alzheimer’s disease have physical changes in their brains. The main changes are the development of abnormal clumps (called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (called neurofibrillary tangles). As more and more plaques and tangles form, healthy nerve cells begin to work less well and lose their ability to communicate with each other. Eventually, they die. As nerve cells die, brain tissue begins to shrink.

What is mild cognitive impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms are not as severe as in Alzheimer’s disease. They are able to carry out their normal daily activities. They usually do not have Alzheimer’s symptoms, like confusion, attention problems, and difficulty with language. People with MCI are more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease than are people without MCI.

How many people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease?

Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5.4 million people in the United States may have Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms usually begin after age 60, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. While younger people in their thirties and forties also may get Alzheimer’s disease, it is much less common. It is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills that interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. Other causes of dementia include blood-vessel disease in the brain (called vascular dementia), Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body disease.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Memory problems are one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s. People may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. Over time, symptoms get worse, and problems can include getting lost, repeating questions, and taking longer than normal to finish daily tasks. As the disease progresses, people may have trouble learning new things, recognizing family and friends, and communicating. Eventually, they need total care.

What kinds of products and services does the Alzheimer’s Research Association offer?

The Alzheimer’s Research Association offers easy-to-read E-books to help give you some of the most important information on handling the disease and the problems that it presents.

We have a complete store on-site for any and all products that would make the lives of caregivers, patients, and seniors in general easier. In our store we have everything from bed pans to electric scooters for mobility, rehab products to incontinence solutions.

We offer a GPS locating and monitoring device to help tackle the problem of wandering.

Easy to install and monitor sensoring devices for helping with the problem of giving the caregiver peace of mind when letting their loved ones live independently.

We will continually update and keep the latest technological advancements in mind to help with any problem that you as a caregiver may face.

With the help and partnering of some of the best companies in the world, we offer monitoring services and discounts to mind game sites like Lumosity.com. Lumosity is a brain game site to help not only Alzheimer’s patients but their caregivers as well to keep their minds healthy and active.

We also offer caregiving classes to help family caregivers understand the disease and help them solve the problems they will face as the disease progresses.

At the moment we offer these classes for the family caregiver, and we are currently working on classes to help the professional caregiver educate themselves with all the newest information on how to properly care for an Alzheimer’s patient.

What else does the Alzheimer’s Research Association do to help caregivers?

We here at The Alzheimer’s Research Association started this organization to be a go-to source of not only information, but also to do everything in our power to make the life of caregivers and patients as easy as possible. We have combed the marketplace to find products and services that would achieve these purposes.

Alzheimer’s disease presents caregivers and patients with unique and distinct challenges that other diseases do not.

Today there are a number of great products and services to help the caregivers and patients meet and solve some of these problems head on.

Technology has evolved to the point that very useful products and services can help eliminate many of the problems that caregivers and patients face.

We have looked at the problems and found some of the best solutions by doing extensive research for the best the marketplace has to offer.

What kind of research do we do?

As an organization, we do not do “hands on” research dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

We, instead, research and gather timely information relevant to helping caregivers more effectively support their Alzheimer’s patients. The Alzheimer’s Research Association (ALZRA) makes sure that caregivers get the information we find that would be of the greatest interest and help to them, so they can be the best caregiver they can be.

Example:
Every day there are hundreds of new studies that come from universities, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinical trials, health alerts, magazine articles, news articles, videos and sources, authored and/or created from numerous experts within the field.

As an organization, we examine the information and attempt to prioritize and organize it in a form that provides the most benefit to both the caregiver and the patient. We then pass that information to our members in the form of Alzheimer’s Alerts, caregiver articles, and post some of that information on our blog, such as Wandering Alerts, that we feel that everyone should know about immediately.