The Onset of Alzheimer's and Dementia: What You Should Know

By RanchView Senior Assisted Living
March 24, 2023

It might be surprising to realize, but research shows that the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia begins decades before the start of symptoms. Once symptoms begin, especially after symptoms are conclusive enough for a dementia diagnosis, reversing or even slowing the disease’s progression is very difficult. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia. Research suggests that the best way forward is through preventative measures.

Dementia Impacts 5 Million+ People in the U.S.

Renowned professor and Alzheimer's researcher, Andrea LaCroix, states that the earlier Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be identified, the better. Her research indicates that early intervention and prevention of Alzheimer's is vital to making strides forward in combating the disease. In addition, mild cognitive impairment usually allows for some level of independent living and precedes the full onset of dementia.

Studies collated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that dementia impacts more than five million people in the U.S. Shockingly, that number is expected to double to ten million by 2050.

Biomarkers that Predict Alzheimer’s Development

What biomarkers have been studied to indicate the possibility that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s later in life? Scientists have studied markers (measurements of substances in a person’s body) that might predict the development of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Potential Dementia Biomarkers in CSF

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid that protects, insulates, and supplies numerous nutrients to the spinal cord and brain. Certain products made in the brain can be detected in CSF. Keeping tabs on the levels of these substances can help researchers understand and diagnose issues with the brain. For example, some CSF biomarkers used to measure Alzheimer’s disease are phospho-tau, tau, and beta-amyloid 42. A lumbar puncture or spinal tap is performed to get CSF.

Though testing CSF biomarkers is not yet widely used in clinical practice, the research for biomarker testing in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease is promising. Scientists use CSF biomarkers in research as a vital tool for detecting neurological issues early. These biomarkers are also used to analyze the effectiveness of various experimental medications.

PET Scan Testing

The presence of amyloid plaques is a hallmark indication of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, abnormally high levels of beta-amyloid often correlate with the presence of amyloid plaques. Therefore, Amyloid PET imaging scans are used as part of obtaining an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

If a person is experiencing symptoms, a positive amyloid scan might mean that the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, it’s possible for people to have amyloid plaques but never develop symptoms of cognitive decline. More testing is needed for a definitive Alzheimer’s diagnosis. A scan that shows no amyloid plaques generally indicates that Alzheimer’s disease is not the cause of cognitive impairment.

Memory Care Community with Hospice Care Accommodations in Encinitas

RanchView Senior Assisted Living in Encinitas, California, is a senior care community in Southern California. We understand that our residents’ holistic life experience (social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical) is vitally important. So, our caregivers provide top-notch, individualized care to each of the members of our communities. Independent and assisted living offer a chance for seniors to experience the joy of community and activity while not having to worry about the daily grind and upkeep of home life.

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AtRanchView Senior Assisted Living (and at our sister locations:Harbor View Senior Assisted Living,Mesa View Senior Assisted Living, andBay View Assisted Living), our compassionate, highly competent staff work hard to provide comprehensive care to each member of our memory care communities.

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