All About Alzheimer's: Healthy Lifestyles, Memory Screening and Virtual Dementia Tours

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Most people with dementia never have screening, according to a new study published in the online issue of Neurology. “These results suggest that approximately 1.8 million Americans over the age of 70 with dementia have never had an evaluation of their cognitive abilities,” said study author Vikas Kotagal of the University of Michigan Health System.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and several other organizations recognized National Memory Screening Day and a New Jersey reporter experienced the event first hand to better understand what the screenings are like. Doctors use the memory screening to distinguish between "normal forgetting" and what could be early onset of disease.

To better understand what it’s like to have dementia, a reporter for the Huntsville Times donned special gear for a “virtual dementia tour” at Regency Retirement Community. The experience included cleated plastic insoles, earphones blasting distracting and relentless noise, and bulky textured gloves. The tasks assigned were simple, but less so because of the physical restraints and difficulty in absorbing instruction.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, including genetic factors. However, the amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, which are believed to produce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, can be discovered in brain scans long before a person is symptomatic. Additionally, a recent study from the University of California suggests that a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or curb the disease, including physical and mental exercise, reduction in stress, and healthy eating.
Gout can bring excruciating pain, but new research suggests it may have a bright side – gout patients face a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. "Our findings provide the first population-based evidence for the potential protective effect of gout on the risk of AD, and support the neuroprotective role of uric acid," said study senior investigator Hyon Choi, who is also the epidemiology director at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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