Alzheimer's disease is especially common after 70 years, reaching a peak around 85. Of course, there is a more youthful appearance (usually between 50 and 65), infrequent and usually have a strong hereditary component. But most of patients with Alzheimer's disease are the largest, which was called "senile dementia" before.
When should we worry about memory lapses?
Oversights in adulthood usually due to stress and accelerated pace of life that leads many people, too demanding. Worry if the oversights are increasing with the passage of time, if in addition to memory failures are failures of other cognitive areas (disorientation in time or space, failure to find words or talking, reasoning errors), when the oversights worsen our ability to do good work previously did correctly (errors when cooking, at work, by making the accounts, driving) or when accompanied by changes in mood or behavior (depression, disinhibition, irritability ...). In all these cases it is necessary to see a specialist.
Diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer
To make the diagnosis is necessary to make a good medical history (to rule out other diseases), some neuropsychological tests, blood tests and brain imaging test (usually an MRI, sometimes a TAC). In doubtful cases it can also be a lumbar puncture or other imaging (PET, SPECT) to confirm the diagnosis, but these at the moment are not required.
It is useful to go to a specialist who knows the field of dementias well as the diagnostic accuracy is higher when the doctor is an expert in this field. In Spain usually it is a geriatrician or neurologist , occasionally a psychiatrist expert in psicogeriatría.
Latest advances in Alzheimer's
Less than what we wanted. A few years ago there were fundamental advances, improving our ability to diagnose the disease and four drugs have significantly improved the course of the disease appear, but not cure. Since then, all medications that have been investigated have failed (although it is close to be asked to approve a monoclonal antibody against amyloid that could stop the disease in its milder stages). Efforts are now focusing on better understanding the disease in its biological basis and its milder stages, to try to stop it before brain damage is great.
The problem with all this is that hardly is investigating how to improve the situation of patients who already have the full disease, moderate or advanced stages. Control of psychotic and behavioral symptoms in these phases, which are the main cause of suffering of the families and the main reason for admission in nursing homes is just not getting enough attention or research investment.