ResearchPhysician-scientists at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin are actively involved in searching for new and more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders. The Memory Disorders Program is internationally recognized for research on early risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and for developing neuro-imaging techniques to detect the disease before symptoms appear.
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- Studying memory enhancing drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. These studies give patients with mild memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease access to investigational medications that may not yet be available to the public. Trials of new and existing drugs offer hope for stabilizing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing mild memory disorders from worsening. While enrolled in a drug study, the patient receives ongoing medical assessment at no charge.
- Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. fMRI is a technique that takes detailed pictures of the brain very quickly. It can identify areas of the brain that become active in response to different tasks, and can give detailed pictures of the exact brain location for memory. fMRI is playing a significant role in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
In particular, fMRI research is studying:
- Adult children of people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. These children have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
- Older adults who have mild memory loss. The patients are tested over five years to help determine if an fMRI scan can be used to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
About DementiaDementia — is a progressive decline in cognitive function caused by damage or disease in the brain. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of illnesses that involve thinking, memory and reasoning. Symptoms can also include changes in personality, mood and behavior. Although common in older adults, dementia is not a normal part of aging.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older adults. An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and other mental functions.
There are many other types of dementia, including:
- Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia, caused by an interruption in the blood supply to the brain
- Frontotemporaldementia (FTD), a group of diseases that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, areas generally associated with personality and behavior
Support and EducationWhen families care for a loved one with a memory disorder, they need ongoing support and information. The social worker and nurses in the Memory Disorders Program are available to assist with information on community resources, respite care, residential options, counseling and legal/financial planning. Family members may contact the program nurses or social worker between visits with questions or concerns.
A support group for caregivers (family members and others) of people with memory disorders meets regularly at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin.
Twice a year, the Memory Disorders Program offers a dementia education program for people with a newly diagnosed family member. The program is presented in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, Southeast Wisconsin Chapter.
Other ResourcesBrain Tissue Analysis
While a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is accurate about 90 percent of the time, the only definitive way to confirm the diagnosis is after death. Family members may request an autopsy of a loved one’s brain tissue to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
Author: Marla Fraunfelder
Last Review Date: May 12, 2011
Online Editor(s): Kathryn Adam