New Guidelines on Alzheimer's Will Help Doctors and Patients

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A nurse holds the hands of a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. (Getty Images/Getty)

The National Institute on Aging is releasing new national guidelines to help catch signs of Alzheimer's. Dr. Creighton Phelps, director of the Alzheimer's Disese Centers Program at the National Institute of Aging explains what this means for patients and their doctors. There are changes that occur in the brain that can be seen with imaging and measuring spinal fluid that are like those in people with Alzheimer's and could potentially help the clinicians know the best way to proceed. This also raises the question: Would you want to know if you were likely to get Alzheimer's?


Creighton Phelps

Produced by:

Leo Duran and Sitara Nieves

Comments [2]

Nikos Retsos from Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

There is also a bill before Congress which I hope includes some safeguards and tough penalties against opportunists and crooks who exploit and defraud senior citizens of their life saving - as the legendary actor Mickey Rooney -himself a victim of such fraud- recently testified before congress.

With age, every part of the body get the slack and withers - including the brain. Of course we cannot delay aging, nor we can avoid genetic factors, but we can rev the brain and keep it at a high RPM with continuous learning, and with a challenging lifestyle. Aristotle had this advise to age well: a) Give the body the nutrients and the attention it needs, and it won't need a doctor (He certainly didn't mean commercial foods with dozens of artificial ingredients to please our palate; he meant natural -unadulterated nutrients). b) Love learning and continue it to remain alert, to become wiser, and become socially relevant, and more respectable. That is why the elders are so revered in all tribal cultures. A spinning brain is better than a grinding brain, and that is the best antidote to dementia!

On the other side of this equation are the couch potatoes: Immobile souls who view their plush couch as the reward of their retirement. And if I can use an analogy here, they are like a fruit that has fallen from the tree on the ground. That fruit can only rot! Similarly the brain rots when it stays inactive, and the suggested 40-45 minutes walk a few times a week doesn't really increase brain activity. People need both a physical and a mental regiment daily to sustain the body's functionality.

There is no panacea for Alzheimer's, and the "stages" definition introduced now into the disease are similar to cancer progression "stages." Unfortunately, the medical sciences have not been able to give us a blueprint on how to avoid it - like avoid obesity to protect ourselves from clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But we can do our part by staying active as much as possible. And if Alzheimer's is caused by changes in various proteins in the brain - as some studies have suggested, that is something beyond our ability to prevent.

Finally, some people -including myself- keep their cars in mint condition for 20-25 years with garaging, pampering, and preventive maintenance schedules that far exceed the owners manual requirements. I feel the same principle applies to our bodies as well as we age! And I think it is never too late to start. Just toss away the "everything in comfort" lifestyle mentality! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Apr. 19 2011 11:44 AM

You mentioned on today's show that the new NIA guidelines would be on your website. I can't find them. Is your posting delayed?

Apr. 19 2011 11:18 AM

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