Dementia in the News

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most feared diagnoses among patients. It destroys people’s minds, their personalities, the very essence of who they are. And once the disease has been diagnosed, there is nothing modern medicine can do to stop it.

A simple test of a person’s ability to identify odors and noninvasive eye exams might someday help doctors learn whether their patients are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research to be presented Sunday.

With Alzheimer’s disease growing fast among the world’s aging population, researchers are increasingly focused on the search for new ways to detect and treat the brain-killing disease in its earliest stages.

Alzheimer’s disease is a personal issue for Martin J. Walsh.

The Boston mayor remembers his grandmother reverting to childlike behaviors when her children implored her to remember them. She didn’t recognize her children, or her grandchildren, or any of the family members that surrounded her in her Ireland home until she died.

Whenever her dementia-afflicted husband went to bed, Reiko Ozawa would sigh in relief and sometimes wish he would never wake up.

That was because once he did, a living nightmare would await her, as her husband, Kunio, would tend to wander off, rant at her and even suffer hallucinations.

“My marriage with you was the biggest mistake of my life,” Kunio, who passed away six years ago at age 64, once shouted at Ozawa in one of his worst outbursts. It didn’t take long before he reverted to what appeared to be a childhood mentality, calling Ozawa “mom.”

Life was relaxing and peaceful for Shigeru Suzuki until six years ago, when he realized that Hiroko, his wife of more than 30 years, was having problems doing simple chores.

The 77-year-old former employee of a major civil engineering firm recalls that, at first, he couldn’t understand why Hiroko couldn’t sort clothes as told. One day, he got irritated and snapped at her, pressing her to explain why she couldn’t just remember to put the clothes away. Hiroko then tearfully replied: “It’s not like I want to be forgetful.”

In one of the most ambitious attempts yet to thwart Alzheimer’s disease, a major study got underway Monday to see if an experimental drug can protect healthy seniors whose brains harbor silent signs that they’re at risk.

Scientists plan to eventually scan the brains of thousands of older volunteers in the U.S., Canada and Australia to find those with a sticky build-up believed to play a key role in development of Alzheimer’s — the first time so many people without memory problems get the chance to learn the potentially troubling news.

My late father had a longtime friend, a retired kosher butcher, who lived down the hall in their South Jersey apartment building. Past 90, Manny was older and frailer than my father; he leaned on a cane and could barely see well enough to recognize faces. But every morning, and again in late afternoon, he walked through my dad’s unlocked front door to be sure he was all right and to kibitz a bit.

If you want to stay healthy and mobile well into old age, start walking today - even if you’ve already edged into “old age.”

The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) announced today the launch of Cognitive Vitality, a new online resource developed to provide a comprehensive and credible overview and analysis of the science for specific strategies to prevent Alzheimer's and related dementias.

A new metric to describe the symptoms of delirium may help researchers and clinicians better study aging-related ailments such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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