What’s New in Local Research



Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease makes up approximately 60-80% of dementia cases.  Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging! However, the biggest known risk factor for the condition is increasing age, with the majority of people with Alzheimer’s being 65 or older. The condition is called early-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. While in its early stages, memory loss is mild and limited to short-term memory, during the later stages, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. As Alzheimer’s advances, the individual may experience disorientation, difficulty driving, remembering directions, deepening confusion about events, time and place and difficulty remembering family and friends.

People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of memory loss may be more obvious to family members and friends. Any individual who is experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. If you need assistance finding a doctor who has experience in evaluating memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Society can help connect you to the right healthcare resources. Many people have troubles with memory – this does NOT mean that they have Alzheimer’s. There are many different causes of memory loss. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of dementia, it is best to visit a doctor so the cause can be determined.

Earlier diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can help to significantly improve quality of life. Current diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease relies largely on documenting mental decline, at which point, Alzheimer’s has already caused severe brain damage. Researchers are currently studying several potential biological markers for their ability to detect early-stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Since there is no existing cure for this disease, current approaches to treating Alzheimer’s focus on helping people maintain mental function, treating the underlying disease process, and managing behavioural symptoms. Available medications focus on either increasing the chemical neurotransmitter called Acetylcholine in the brain, which is believed to be decreased in Alzheimer’s or dissolving the plaques and tangles of amyloid in the brain, which is thought to be one of the main ways Alzheimer’s causes cognitive decline.

Bluewater Clinical Research Group, Dr. Anum Khalid

December 2022