Study: early detection promising for Alzheimer’s treatment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A new study has been done on Alzheimer’s disease, now diagnosed at an alarming rate as baby boomers grow older.

With more than 5 million living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., more people are affected. Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, the devastating disease which robs people of precious memories. There is no cure but recent studies released by the Alzheimer’s Association appear promising when it comes to early detection. Among them a smell test, linking an increased risk with not being able to identify certain odors.

Dr. Gerard Kerins of the Adler Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who specializes in Alzheimer’s said, it’s exciting research but it’s still too early.

“They are not 100% sensitive or specific, so you might have deficits for other reasons and it might not be the case that everybody, who identifies all the smells are immune to Alzheimer’s or memory loss,” said Kerins.

Other studies focused on eye tests, detecting Alzheimer’s brain plaques in the retina and lenses of the eyes, using advanced imaging technology and a new laser scanning system.

“This is technically a little more difficult but once again the preliminary results appear to be encouraging and positive and that we can now pick up this disease earlier as these types of tools and testing mature,” said Kerins.

And there’s more evidence that lifestyle interventions may improve memory and thinking.

“It has been shown that people who volunteer or people that are involved with groups and friends, keeping their mind active and keeping their physical activity at a certain level will also have a better chance of reducing the risk of developing memory loss.”

Caregiver Maria Tomasetti monitors the latest on Alzheimer’s. She cares for her 89-year-old father.

“It can give us hope,” she said. “We try to keep his diet as healthy as possible, still keep him active, he still likes to walk.”

Something Tomasetti said her father maintained before his diagnosis 11 years ago.

“His mother actually had dementia at a much younger age. I’ve no scientific proof. It certainly helps me to think that perhaps his lifestyle changes perhaps delayed the onset of his dementia,” said Tomasetti.

Dr. Kerins said with no cure, the emphasis is on a team based approach to care at the Adler Center. There are a number of studies about to get underway at the Yale Alzheimer’s Research Unit. For more information – call 203-764-8100. For more information on treatment and diagnosis at the Adler Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital – call 203-688-6361.

To raise money for care, support and research, the Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut has six ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’ scheduled in September. For more information, log onto alz.org/ct.

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