With so much negative news in 2020, it’s worth reflecting on some of the wonderful achievements the past year brought – such as Alzheimer’s research breakthroughs. Katie McDonough, director of programs and services for the Alzheimer’s Association, shares, “There are many things that we’re learning and it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research.”
Here are just a few of the Alzheimer’s research breakthroughs reached that are leading us ever nearer to a cure:
- Identification of dementia risk factors. Understanding the leading risk factors for dementia, such as pollution, excessive alcohol consumption, and traumatic brain injury (among others) is estimated to reduce cases of dementia worldwide by as much as 40%.
- Falling rates of dementia cases. For the past 30 years, dementia diagnoses in North America and Europe have declined by 13% per decade – likely due to lifestyle changes.
- Progress towards earlier diagnosis. The Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases initiative (EDoN) has been launched, in which digital devices are being developed to diagnosis Alzheimer’s much earlier – as early as 10 – 15 years before symptoms begin.
- Increased focus on MCI. Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is now being looked at more closely, allowing for earlier strategy, diagnosis and treatment.
- Dementia blood tests. Predictors for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more advanced, and in a recent study from Sweden, researchers identified blood-based proteins that predict future memory and thinking problems.
- Review of antipsychotic meds. A recent study conducted by the University College of London revealed an increased rate of the prescription of antipsychotic medications for those with dementia – possibly linked to the increased need for delirium management as well as agitation and anxiety from COVID-19 restrictions. These meds are only recommended when no alternative is available, and the reduction of their use is being further explored.
- Artificial intelligence. At a faster pace and lower cost, a new AI solution is able to determine the shape of proteins in the brain, helping researchers design medications to help remove these proteins.
- Aducanumab. The FDA accepted this promising drug in 2020 for a priority review process, meaning that sometime in 2021, we should be finding out if it’s approved for use in the general population.
At JFS Care, the leader in Jewish senior services in Los Angeles and nearby areas, we’re focused on following the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease, and on providing the cutting-edge, highly skilled care that helps those with dementia live to their fullest potential. Whether the need is for full-time, live-in care, a few hours each week for respite care, or professional care management support, contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can help. Visit our Service Area page to see if our services are available in your community.