Recently scientists have made huge leaps in their understanding of Alzheimer’s disease treatment and although there is still no cure, scientists can see this disease coming from a long way off and that gives both patients and their caregivers time to prepare. It may also give scientists a way to stall the onset of symptoms in the future.
Just two decades ago, scientists saw Alzheimer’s disease as the end-stage of a person’s mental faculties. Scientists are now beginning to unravel the mysteries of this disease with tools an earlier generation of researchers simply did not have access to.
Today, researchers have tests such as imaging modalities, bio-markers, blood tests, and spinal fluid tests to name a few, that give scientists a better clue as to what is going on in the brain. Using volunteers, scientists have found complex changes in the brain begin up to 20 years before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Researchers are able to clearly see and pinpoint those hallmark plaques and tangles of proteins that eventually damage nerve cells.
There is still not a lot doctors can do with all of this information but they are hopeful knowing as they move forward they will be able to develop drugs, therapies, and immunization therapies that may in fact have an impact on this underlying disease process.
Meanwhile, doctors say keeping both the body and mind active could delay the onset of symptoms. Aging doesn’t have to be a passive process such as people just sitting around and watching the aging process progress. Simply walking 30 minutes a day with your doctor’s approval is enough to stay fairly active and make a difference.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will triple over the next 40 years, so the race is on to try to figure this disease out. Doctors are hopeful science will make major advances in Alzheimer’s treatment within the next few years and are ecstatic that never before has news about this dreaded disease been so encouraging.