By Dr. Trinh/ November, 2017
There are three main stages of Alzheimer’s progression: the mild stage, the moderate stage, and the severe stage. Prior to these three stages of the disease is a pre-Alzheimer’s stage, called “Mild Cognitive Impairment” (MCI).
During MCI, individuals may occasionally experience memory problems which do not affect their activities of daily living. In the mild stage, people begin to experience memory loss and other cognitive difficulties intermittently but can still function daily with minimal impairment. The mild stage can last many years. In the moderate stage, damage extends and progresses to areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. During the severe stage, amyloid plaques and tau tangles spread throughout the brain, and brain tissue shrinks notably. During the moderate and severe stage, often a caregiver is required to assist with most of the activities of daily living.
Scientists are beginning to explore Alzheimer’s disease during its mild stage in order to identify plaques earlier on. This is the direction of research we are adopting at Irvine Clinical Research (ICR). However, the national challenge of this study is to find and enroll individuals in the early stage of the disease.
The main reason behind the difficulty to identify people with early-stage Alzheimer’s is that most people in this phase of the disease do not realize that they are in a stage of mild dementia and thus, dismiss it as a sign of normal aging. As a matter of fact, both patients and physicians often confuse mild Alzheimer’s with symptoms of “getting older.” By the time the disease progresses enough to affect their daily lives and drive them to see a doctor, years of damage have already occurred.
People often enlist in clinical trials when they are given the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, by this time years of the mild stage have been lost and the moderate stage of the disease has already initiated.
In our efforts to find a successful way to combat Alzheimer’s, we are seeking people in early stages of the disease as well as individuals with no symptoms but at high risk such as having a family history of Alzheimer’s or exhibiting environmental, occupational and lifestyle risks that increase the chances of developing the disease. Our goal is to stop Alzheimer’s before the damage occurs. The earlier we detect this condition the more proactive we can be in educating and adjusting our daily activities to promote an improved brain-healthy lifestyle.
At ICR, we provide free Brain Health Consultations for patients. We want people to know that there are ways to minimize the risk of developing Alzheimer’s through lifestyle changes such as a “Healthy Brain Diet”, and other lifestyle activities that keep our brain healthy. We believe that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of treatment.
To learn more about us, visit www.healthybrainclub.com , or contact us today at 800-856-8121.
To find free Alzheimer’s services and support in Orange County, visit http://www.alzoc.org/services/