Mysteries of the Aging Mind

What happens to the mind as we age? Where does forgetfulness become the start of dementia? What is normal aging and what is pathology? What causes memory loss and are there ways to prevent it from occurring?

One third of people over the age of 80 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But many more people suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment. This effects people in their 40’s and 50’s. It is manifested by mild problems in memory and learning but does not affect ones ability to function normally. Will people with Mild Cognitive Impairment progress to Alzheimer’s disease? If so is there anything that can prevent this progression?

What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease? What is available to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease? Many different strategies have been used to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s’ Disease. These include: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Gingko Biloba, anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. Motrin), cholesterol lowering medications (i.e. Lipitor), hormonal replacement medications (estrogen), cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Excelon, Reminyl) and memantine (Namenda)? How effective are these treatments and should I be on one of them?

What other factors might affect my chances of developing memory loss? Do hypertension, stress, diabetes, atherosclerotic heart disease, diet and exercise play a role in memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease? If I have a relative with Alzheimer’s disease am I at risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease? What does the future hold? Will we be vaccinating against Alzheimer’s disease?

Posted in Geriatric Medicine