"However, as a practical matter, clinicians need to know the very heterogeneous presentation of dementia," he continued. "Particularly, the persons who are responsible for giving care to elderly people -- family members, parental caregivers and clinicians -- need to know that, in people with a lot of education, it is possible that the disease may progress at a more rapid rate than they would expect to see based on their experiences with other people who may not have had as much reserve."
The study pointed out the need for more research, particularly in the area of biological markers, to track how Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are progressing.
"By the time people experience cognitive symptoms, there may well be quite a large amount of brain pathology, and once we do get treatments that are able to change the natural history, waiting until symptoms develop, particularly in highly educated people, may be too late to affect the disease process," Hall said. "A lot of people are looking for various biological markers of developing dementia. This, I think, magnifies the importance that that research continue."
The Alzheimer's Association' has a Maintain Your Brain program on keeping your brain healthy.
SOURCES: Charles B. Hall, Ph.D., associate professor, biostatistics, department of epidemiology and population health and department of neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Oct. 23, 2007, Neurology
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