What Can You Do Now?
What can you do?
- Recognize the symptoms
If you have trouble remembering the date, or find that it takes much longer for you to remember people’s names, if it’s a question of not forgetting where your keys are but what they are for, then you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms. And if people around you notice that your ability to pay attention or recall simple things has changed, you should see your doctor and ask about what these changes mean.
- Visit your doctor
Not all memory lapses are a sign of disease; it’s natural for some things to slip as we age. But if you’re concerned about changes you’ve noticed in your ability to recall or even learn new things, then it’s worth discussing them with your doctor. He can help you determine whether these lapses are a part of normal aging, another medical condition, or whether they might be the first signs of MCI or Alzheimer’s.
- Understand Alzheimer’s disease
There are a number of useful resources on Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides basic information on the latest understanding of the disease, as well as updates on the newest research in diagnosis and treatment.
- Enroll in a clinical trial
Researchers are moving very quickly to understand Alzheimer’s better, and their knowledge about the genetic and molecular factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s can only grow as they continue to study more patients. The more information collected, the better the chance of increasing understanding and improving treatments.
Keeping in touchEven without drugs, there are many things that Alzheimer’s patients can do to perhaps reduce and delay their symptoms of memory loss. Keeping in touch with family and friends and developing a rich social network can stimulate the brain and may slow down cognitive decline.
What is Cognitive Reserve?Cognitive reserve is one theory that may help explain why some people have Alzheimer’s pathologies, beta amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles and yet show no signs of dementia. Doctors believe that some people have compensated for the gradual decline in cognitive function that amyloid plaques cause by building up enough reserves of synapses and nerve cell networks to make up for the loss of cells to disease. They do so by keeping socially active and engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as playing games, learning new things, and continuing to plan and organize their lives, maintaining or even increasing their nerve cell network. Exercise and a healthy diet can help to shore up brain nerve cells as well. The deeper the reserves, the less likely you may be to succumb to the effects of Alzheimer’s if it strikes. READ MORE
The National Institutes of Health has two institutes—the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke—that focus on Alzheimer’s disease research. Both are good resources for finding current trials that are testing better ways to diagnose and treat the disease. LESS