FAQs

Q?

What is dementia and how does it relate to Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

Dementia represents a reduction in cognitive functioning, such as affects memory, recall, thinking and reasoning, which is significant enough to not only interfere with a person's activities of daily living, but also results in the need for some assistance from others in one area of daily functioning or another. Any condition, which results in a reduction of cognitive skills may cause dementia, for example, head injury, meningitis, toxic exposure, etc. Alzheimer's disease, however, is the most frequent cause of dementia in older people.

Q?

What exactly is Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative condition of the central nervous system resulting in a reduction in function, associated with a loss of brain cells in specific regions of the brain, which results in alterations of memory, recall, thinking and behavior. While it is not uncommon to have mild forgetfulness in normal aging, these symptoms are more significant in patients with Alzheimer's disease and result in a loss of functioning, which generally requires assistance from others in one or more aspects of daily life.

Q?

How many people are affected with Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

While it is impossible to know how many people actually have Alzheimer's disease in the United States, experts suggest that currently as many as 5.1 million people are afflicted with this condition.

Q?

What are commonly identified as the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

Problems with memory and cognition are generally the most common early signs in Alzheimer's disease. In these early stages, a patient with Alzheimer's disease might:

  1. Have difficulties with recent memory and recall.
  2. Ask repetitive questions and/or tell repetitive stories.
  3. Get lost in familiar locations.
  4. Lose or misplace items much more frequently than in the past.
  5. Have difficulty managing money and paying bills on time. Errors with the patient's checkbook are common.
  6. Take longer than normal in executing daily activities.
  7. There may be difficulties with word finding, including difficulty with name retention and recall.
  8. There may be difficulties with vision, which is not related to eye function.
  9. There are problems with a sense of direction.
  10. There may be impairment of the ability to reason and make judgments.
  11. There may be changes in personality or mood.

 

Q?

What is the cause of Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

Although a tremendous amount of research is ongoing involving many areas related to Alzheimer's disease, the actual cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown. While attending the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen, I personally queried individually many nationally and internationally recognized experts on Alzheimer's disease. Not only were these experts uncertain as to what the initiating event resulting in the development of this disease is, none was willing to put a theoretical postulation forward for consideration at that time.

Certainly, there are some individuals who are at risk, or higher risk, due to genetic inheritance.Some individuals, who are physically and mentally engaged, seem to be at a lower level of risk to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Some beneficial activities include:

  1. Exercise
  2. Social engagement
  3. Left language activities such as reading and cognitive exercises
  4. Right brain activities that might involve spatial relationships and art, music and hobbies, as well as diet (preferred is a cardiac friendly and/or "Mediterranean diet"), are felt to be important and might well explain why one individual of an identical twin pair may express the illness while the other does not.
  5. Clearly age is a factor. The risk of Alzheimer's disease increases progressively with increasing age. Concomitant medical conditions, particularly when poorly controlled, such as hypertension and diabetes, appear to be bona fide risk factors.

 

Q?

Are there medications currently available to treat Alzheimer’s?

A.

There is currently no medication approved which represents a cure for Alzheimer's disease. There are medications approved to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and these include:

  1. Tacrine (no longer used)
  2. Donepezil
  3. Rivastigmine
  4. Galantamine, as well as
  5.  Memantine

There is clear suggestion from many studies that the cholinesterase inhibitors appear to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. This appears to be the majority opinion among Alzheimer's disease experts, although there are clearly dissenting voices in the research community over interpretation of this research data.

 

Q?

What is basic research in Alzheimer’s disease?

A.

Basic research covers a wide range of laboratory investigations into the nature and character of Alzheimer's disease evaluating multiple aspects of this condition, including studies assessing:

  1. The first appearance of the earliest indications of damage
  2. The mechanisms of such change
  3. The roles that beta amyloid and tau protein aggregates play in the production of injury. How energy metabolism, apo lipoprotein E4, genetic factors, environmental factors, environmental toxins, as well as infections, might trigger and/or result in the propagation and progression of the disease. This research is performed in the laboratory and does not involve human subjects.

Q?

What is translational research?

A.

Translational research represents the next phase of basic research, in which information learned in the earlier stages of research leads to the prediction that various interventions at various metabolic or physiologic steps in the disease process might result in improvement and might positively affect the outcome in patients with Alzheimer's disease, either through slowing progression, halting disease progression, and/or preventing disease onset. This represents an extremely active area of research investigation.

Q?

What is clinical research and why is it so important?

A.

While basic research is also called preclinical research and involves laboratory studies, clinical research involves human subjects, including:

  1. Phase I research-in this phase the safety of a potential new research approach is studied.
  2. Phase II research-in phase II research early information on treatment safety continues to be gathered. In addition, information on medication efficacy, as well as a better understanding of dosage is explored.
  3. Phase III research- phase III research is initiated after successful, preclinical, phase I and phase II research has demonstrated early efficacy and safety. Phase III research involves a large number of patients, may be world wide in scope and often allows patients with a greater number of underlying medical conditions and other medications to participate. A medication is generally approved if phase III research is successful. Almost all phase II and phase III research programs  involve one or more doses of the active research drug under study, as well as a placebo, or "sugar pill". Neither the patient, nor the caregiver, nor the physician conducting the research (principal investigator) are aware of whether or not the patient is on one dosage form or another. In this way, a true "blinded" evaluation of the efficacy of the medication can be obtained.

Q?

How can someone be involved in Alzheimer’s research?

A.

Enroll Today

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or have experienced difficulties with memory and cognition to suggest that you might have this condition, please be evaluated today. The Neurological Associates of Albany has a clinical section which can evaluate an individual in a typical physician's office setting, as well as a research division where patients are able to  directly be evaluated for eligibility in one or more programs, assuming the programs are a good fit for the patient's overall condition and status.

Participants  receive study-related medication and care  through a research grant without any charge to the patient or their insurance carrier. This includes medical evaluations, study related examinations, laboratory testing including blood work and cardiograms, as well as medical imaging. All this occurs at no cost.

If you or a loved one are interested in being evaluated for our neurological clinic or for our research programs, please call today at 518 449-2662 - clinic,  or at 518 426-0575 research. Both offices are located at 760 Madison Avenue, Albany, New York 12208.