For decades, experts have examined the development of Alzheimer’s through a single basic model, even though not all Alzheimer’s diagnoses present with the same symptoms and progression.
However now, a new, collaborative study between the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Korea is revealing some fascinating data to help us more fully understand and treat the different types of Alzheimer’s disease. Rather than one universal, dominant diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, researchers have discovered that there are 4 separate variants that occur in as many as 18 – 30% of cases. This change in thinking is helping researchers more fully comprehend the variations in the disease from person to person.
With these findings, specialists are now able to customize treatment plans based on the particular subgroup diagnosed.
The study looked at data from over 1,600 individuals, identifying more than 1,100 who were either in various stages of Alzheimer’s disease or who were not cognitively impaired at all. Following these participants over a two-year period allowed researchers to funnel each person who presented tau abnormalities into four distinct sub-groups:
- Subgroup 1: Occurring in as many as one out of three diagnoses, this variant features the spreading of tau in the temporal lobe. The predominant impact is on memory.
- Subgroup 2: Impacting the cerebral cortex, the second variant has less of an effect on memory and more on executive functioning, such as carrying out actions or planning activities. It affects about one out of five individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
- Subgroup 3: The visual cortex is impacted in this variant, affecting an individual’s orientation to self, capacity to distinguish shapes, distance, contours, movement, and an object’s location in relation to other objects. Much like the first variant, it occurs in about one in three diagnoses.
- Subgroup 4: This variant represents an asymmetrical spreading of tau within the left hemisphere of the brain, causing the largest effect on language and occurring in about one out of five cases of Alzheimer’s.
Oskar Hansson, professor of neurology at Lund University and supervisor of the study, explains next steps: “…we need a longer follow-up study over five to ten years to be able to confirm the four patterns with even greater accuracy.”
Regardless of which type of Alzheimer’s an older adult has, JFS Care’s caregivers receive extensive training in helping to manage any challenges while emphasizing the senior’s strengths. Contact us online or give us a call at 213-383-2273 and let us customize a plan of care to enhance life for a cherished older adult with dementia. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about elderly care in Los Angeles, CA, and the nearby areas. View our service page for a full list of the communities we serve.