Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, Dr. Patrick Coll of UConn’s Center on Aging recommends early screening for those with memory loss, to diagnose whether it is caused by dementia and try to slow its progression.
UConn Health’s Memory Assessment Program, part of the Center on Aging, screens patients for dementia, a set of cognitive brain diseases of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form.
Dementia begins by causing a decline in short-term memory but progresses to affect many other aspects of brain function. The biggest risk factor for developing dementia is old age. About half of those over the age of 90 will experience some symptoms of dementia. Cardiovascular disease such as stroke or mini-strokes are also a risk factor.
But Alzheimer’s disease has a different genesis: It’s caused by the gradual buildup of a bad type of amyloid protein in the brain. This buildup slows the brain’s function over time, leading to permanent cognitive impairment and memory loss, and is eventually fatal. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., not far behind heart disease, cancer, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though there is unfortunately no current cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments that can slow the progression of the illness.