Do People with Alzheimer Need an Imaginary Village? Or is a Cure About to Come?

By Helen Holmes on January 26, 2012

They call it Dementiaville – a small village far from the modern world where people with Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses will live like ordinary residents. They will live in 1950-styled houses. They are free to move around and mingle with their neighbours. The only thing they can’t do is go away from the village. Of course there will be nurses and doctors to oversee them. But they wouldn’t know it. The carers will dress like gardeners, shop assistants, hairdressers, and ordinary members of the community. Despite of the detractors, Switzerland is confident it will work for the elderly with Alzheimer and dementia. The government has just allocated €20M or about £17M for this 1950-themed village.

Alzheimer – the Most Common Form of Dementia

One of the most disheartening events that can happen to our life is to be forgotten by the people we love, especially our parents or our grandparents. Alzheimer is the most common form of dementia, with thousands of people being diagnosed each year. People have always believed that being forgetful is part of aging. But according to experts, the loss of cognitive function isn’t a normal part of aging. We all experience memory loss from time to time but the case is different for people with Alzheimer’s. Other than being very forgetful of past events, they tend to forget the names of objects and people around them. They repeat questions and statements over and over again, not knowing about it. People with Alzheimer’s disease forget their usual routines until they no longer remember to do even the basic daily activities such as brushing their teeth.

Men Have Higher Risk of Alzheimer

According to a recent study just published yesterday in Journal Neurology, men have higher risk of developing mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease as compared to women. Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester observed 1450 people ages 70 to 89 and they found out that men are more prone to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than women by 26%. The report showed that out of 722 men, 161 of them developed MCI while out of 728 women, 135 were diagnosed with MCI. In addition to the gender, the researchers also cited other factors that affect a person’s vulnerability to Alzheimer’s and other mental illnesses. They reported that those who were widowed, separated, divorced, and less educated are more likely to experience Alzheimer’s than those who are married and were educated.

Blood Test to Diagnose Alzheimer Early

Right now, lumbar puncture is the only physical examination performed to diagnose people with Alzheimer’s. The test involves extracting small amounts of cerebrospinal fluid from the patient’s spine. However, this test is highly invasive and painful. This is why scientists are doing all they can to develop another diagnostic procedure through blood test. The Spanish researchers who are conducting the study suggest that amyloid beta (a protein-like substance that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease) can be detected in the blood. This is not the first attempt to create more effective diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s. According to Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, it may take years before a simpler diagnostic test can be made available to clinics.

Cure for Dementia to be Made Available in 10 Years

Just like developing a test to diagnose patients, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia is still big challenge for many scientists. But UK experts are more determined to finally give accurate answers to all questions about dementia. Recommendations were made to the UK government to create a bigger and more suitable research environment. The purpose of which is to encourage more experts to focus on conducting studies and finally develop a cure that would save the lives of thousands of elderly.

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