During World Alzheimer’s Month, we invited people to tell us what they would ask an Alzheimer’s researcher if they bumped into one on the street. Now, we have answers from Dr. Melissa Andrew, MD, PhD, Dalhousie University, who chairs the quality of life panel for the Alzheimer Society Research Program. Stay tuned for more of your questions answered throughout the year.
- Are we any nearer to understanding the cause of this disease today than we were 20 years ago?
A key thing we are learning is that there is probably not a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease. There are characteristic brain changes, but they do not tell us the whole story. For example, having many other (seemingly unrelated) health problems also increases the risk of dementia. This finding represents an important advancement and suggests we need to expand our focus to consider multiple causes. Because if we learn about the many things that influence risk of dementia, we can be better equipped to find treatments, and someday, cures.
- Is there any hope to find a way to reverse Alzheimer’s effect on brain?
There is hope. Right now, hundreds or researchers from across Canada have united their efforts to understand the causes of dementia, develop better treatments and prevention strategies, and improve quality of life for people and families living with dementia. This initiative is called the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), and you can find out more at www.ccna-ccnv.ca. There is a huge amount of research going on around the world. This gives me, as a dementia researcher and geriatrician who treats many patients and families experiencing dementia, great hope for the future.
Chair of the Quality of Life panel for the Alzheimer Society Research Program