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The sooner a doctor can diagnose Alzheimer's Disease the better. The patient can begin to take prescribed medications to help slow the degeneration, as well as perform mental exercises to help the brain continue to transmit data correctly. Many times when someone has Alzheimer's disease, he or she is incorrectly diagnosed with senile dementia, which is treated differently. Unfortunately the symptoms of dementia are almost the same as the early stage of Alzheimer's disease. A recent study, however, indicates that early diagnosis is possible and essential.Dr. David K. Johnson and colleagues from the University of Kansas performed a research study that included 444 people who had not previously been diagnosed with dementia. The study began in 1979 and concluded in 2006. Each participant was evaluated and given a series of cognitive tests at the beginning of the study and at least one more time before the conclusion of the study. During the course of the study 134 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia. After their death the follow-up autopsies showed that 44 actually had Alzheimer's disease, not dementia. Further research of the cognitive tests that the participants underwent showed that there were some key differences in certain areas of brain functions.One of the key findings in participants with confirmed Alzheimer's was that visuospatial abilities declined dramatically three years before the diagnosis of dementia. Visuospatial ability is the ability to asses objects in relation to their environment. An example of this would be the ability to identify an object that does not belong with a group of related objects. Identifying patterns is another example. The study also showed an overall decline of cognitive abilities in the year following the visuospatial declines, and in the year prior to a dementia diagnosis there was a sharp decline in working and verbal memory.In many cases recognizing the symptoms falls on close family members or caregivers. In another unrelated study it was found that caregivers were much more likely to attribute the cognitive changes in the elderly as simply a part of aging, therefore delaying a diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, the study showed that a lack of education in this area was the underlying cause for the delay in treatment. Doctors and scientists believe that if the disease can be diagnosed before the brain begins to degenerate, then treatments can start working before the disease causes brain damage. A protein called amyloid is related with Alzheimer's disease, and a radioactive dye called PIB (Pittsburgh Compound B) will show this protein in the brain of a living person by use of a PET scan. Dr. William E. Klunk, a co-discoverer of the dye, stated that he is working on medicines that will prevent or remove the protein from the brain. This study is still in its very early stages, but scientists are very optimistic about being able to detect Alzheimer's early, and possibly preventing the disease altogether.Drawing upon our more than 30-year history of granting degrees in professional psychology, Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning. Because getting a degree is one thing. Succeeding, quite another.
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