The Spread of Alzheimer’s: What We Know

Few illness associated with old age are as debilitating–both for the senior and their family–as Alzheimer’s disease. Through the years each New York elder law attorney at our firm has come to appreciate the myriad of ways that these degenerative cognitive conditions impact the lives of community members and affect their long-term planning. Medical experts working on better understanding this illness need all the support they can get–their work can truly change millions of life.

In a bit of good news, a New York Times article earlier this month discussed how a medical team studying Alzheimer’s may have found new information about how the condition spreads. By outward appearances, the disease seems to spread with a bacteria or virus moving from brain cell to brain cell. However, according to the new research that does not appear to be the case. Instead, the spreading of the condition is actually caused by a growth of a “tau” protein.

This new research seems to definitively answer for the first time a big question about the spread of the disease. For twenty five years experts debated whether Alzheimer’s spread via a transmission of the disease from neuron to neuron via paths used for cell communication or if the transmission did not occur along those paths but simply in clusters of “weaker” brain cells. This latest evidence suggests that cell-to-cell transmission via pathway does occur.

So what does this mean for patients?

Those involved explain that this new understanding may allow researchers to pinpoint ways to stop the spread of the disease in its tracks. Before this information those working to slow the spread were seemingly in the dark–unclear about what exactly was needed to fight it. However, now those same professionals know what they are up against. By using things like antibodies, researchers may learn how to slow or block the spread of the tau protein. In fact, our elder law attorneys were interested to discover that those involved with this project believe the findings may also have implications for other problems that spread in similar ways–like Parkinson’s disease.

Hopefully this and related research continues to produce dividends that may one day help doctors slow the spread of Alzheimer’s, prevent it, or even reverse course and offer a cure. Until that time, local family members who have suspicions that a loved one may be facing this problem should ensure that they receive medical help as soon as possible. Also, do not forget to visit with a New York elder law lawyer to take proper legal steps so that decisions about long-term care and other medical needs can be made in a timely fashion without legal headaches.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Primary Progressive Aphasia Remains Little-Known Form of Dementia

The Rising Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease

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