I'm Dr. Andrew E. Budson, a cognitive and behavioral neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist. I have coauthored five books that center on Alzheimer's disease and other associated disorders, and I am here in advance of World Alzheimer's Day, which is on September 21st, to discuss my research. For more on my work, check out my website: https://www.andrewbudsonmd.comand this research story:http://www.bu.edu/today/2018/memory-lapses/. Ask me anything!

Hi everyone--I'm sorry that I haven't had a chance to answer everyone's questions, I will try to log back in later to answer more. Till then, Keep Your Memory Strong!

Comments: 717 • Responses: 93  • Date: 

takeflight61136 karma

I have notoriously bad memory. Am I more likely to suffer from a dementia disorder/if I do, will my symptoms be worse than someone with a normal/good memory while healthy?

abudson298 karma

No! you are not at more risk for dementia just because you have a bad memory. If you do, you may be better off than other because you already know how to compensate for your dementia with memory aides such as calendars, notebooks, post-it notes, phone apps, etc.

Kyrle129103 karma

What are the lifestyle changes one can take to slow down the progress of the disease? Is there any medications and how do they act?

abudson123 karma

Regarding medications, the currently available, FDA approved medications work to increase the levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine. From the perspective of the individual and their family, these medications can turn the clock back by 6 to 12 months on the disease--making someone's memory the way that it was during that time. It cannot, however, stop the clock from ticking down. But people will always be 6-12 months better on the medications. We cover this topic in our book as well.

abudson60 karma

For lifestyle changes the data suggest that the Mediterranean diet and aerobic exercise are the way to go. We go over this in more detail in our book Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory: What's Normal, What's Not, and What to Do About It https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Managing-Your-Memory/dp/0190494956/

Mootjuh092 karma

What do you think is the best way to interact with someone with Alzheimer's? Like would it be a good idea to take a lot of pictures/videos to help them remember certain things?

abudson166 karma

Pictures are a wonderful way to interact with someone with Alzheimer's! We did research in our lab to show that people understand and remember information in picture better than with words alone. Experiential learning is ideal. But if you want to say, help them remember their schedule, print it out using pictures and they will have an easier time remembering it.

bynL80 karma

What is a common misconception about Alzheimer's that you would like more people to be educated about? Also, what is the best way to talk to family members about the possibility of living with Alzheimer's in the future? How can we best prepare ourselves to care for family members who begin showing signs of the disease? Thank you so much for your much-needed research and work!

abudson142 karma

I recommend bringing up memory problems and Alzheimer's in the future just like any other medical problem. Try to fight against the stigma of Alzheimer's disease by speaking about it normally, like the possibility of hip fractures and other medical problems. The other scary truth is that 50% of those over the age of 85 have the disease or something similar, so if you live long enough, it is a concern.

abudson54 karma

The most common misconception about Alzheimer's is that it is only present when someone is really confused or has memory problems that interfere with daily life. In fact, Alzheimer's disease can start very early and initially just cause very mild memory problems that only the individual themselves may notice. We discuss this issue in detail in our book. https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Managing-Your-Memory/dp/0190494956/

HutchGetCrunk57 karma

What are your thoughts on the theory of Alzheimer’s being “type 3 diabetes”? Is insulin resistance in the brain something your field is actively exploring in regards to Alzheimer’s?

abudson56 karma

Insulin resistance is definitely a problem. We recommend the Mediterranean diet to try to reduce your insulin spikes. Note that sugar AND diet drinks will cause your insulin to spike. So i recommend staying away from sweets (at least most of the time).

marblezlover38 karma

Hi there, I’ve heard that poor sleep has been correlated to Alzheimer’s disease. Is there any truth to this?

If so, is it possible that poor sleep causes the disease, or vice versa?


abudson66 karma

Sleep is critical for memory for 3 reasons:

  1. if you are tired you cannot concentrate well, and if you don't concentrate on something you won't remember it.
  2. We transfer our short term, temporary memory into long-term permanent memory while we sleep. So if you don't get enough sleep this transfer will not occur and you won't hold on to your memories for a lifetime.
  3. We actually clear beta amyloid from our brains while we sleep.

Ditzy_D0O36 karma

As of right now, what's the theory on what kick-starts the process of the breaking down of the brain?

abudson67 karma

Alzheimer's begins with an accumulation of beta-amyloid protein that clumps into plaques. The plaques get larger, inflammatory cells become involved, and then it disrupts brain cells. The damaged cells then release tau inside the cells, which form long chains that become tangled up, forming tangles. Those cells then die. That is how the disease progresses. You can find more details in our books https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

KelseyAnn9434 karma

My sister says all people with Down syndrome will get Alzheimer’s, is this true?

abudson77 karma

Almost. Because the amyloid precursor protein that starts Alzheimer's is on Chromosome 21 and Down's syndrome is due to trisomy 21 (three copies of the chromosome), most people with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease. However, some people don't have copies of the entire chromosome 21 and thus not every patient with Down's syndrome develops Alzheimer's. But most do.

frost00932 karma

How genetic is Alzheimer's? Does your grandparents having the disease guarantee you will get it as well?

abudson54 karma

The studies show that if your parents or siblings have the disease (not grandparents) your risk will be increased 2- to 4-fold. So if the risk of developing the disease by age 65 is 3% without a family history, the risk increases to 6-12%. With just a grandparent with the disease and not one's parents, the risk is much lower.

johndehlinmademedoit27 karma

I see “promising” news reports on here all the time about some new study, treatment protocol, etc. done in lab settings on animals that may have potential human applications in the future, but there’s never anything more than a flash in the pan.

Realistically, how much closer are to to finding a “cure” or effective prophylactics than we were 10 or even 20 years ago?

Does this disease have the potential to become the polio of this generation, or is it fundamentally too distinct to compare?

Edit to add: my father is in the later stages so I’m particularly interested in this for my own future.

abudson51 karma

We are absolutely closer to find a way to prevent this disease than we were 10 or 20 years ago. But we are not there yet. hopeful in the next 10-20 years. Right now I recommend aerobic exercise and Mediterranean diet. see our books for more details.

LexTaleonus27 karma

What are your thoughts on the ethics of bringing someone with alzheimer's to their spouses funeral? Do you think it gives them closure in some way or do you think it just causes distress until they forget again?

abudson46 karma

This is a very difficulty question. I have seen it successful both ways. some patients would not remember who their spouse was and thus there is no reason to bring them. For others I do believe it could be traumatic. But for those who do have memory left it can help them understand where the spouse went. There is no right or wrong answer here. I would try to get a sense from them whether they would like to go, if that is possible.

yohann717 karma

To be perfectly honest, I don't know much about Alzheimer. But is there a simple activity that we can do everyday to lower our chance to have Alzheimer? Thanks in advance.

abudson18 karma

For lifestyle changes the data suggest that the Mediterranean diet and aerobic exercise are the way to go. We go over this in more detail in our book Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory: What's Normal, What's Not, and What to Do About It


bo_still_knows17 karma

I have a friend whose mom is 57 and in great physical shape, but is starting to forget things, fall down when she normally wouldn't, and struggling with odd tasks. She's really hesitant to go to the doctor to get checked, presumably out of a fear of what the diagnosis could be. My friend and I are stumped - any suggestions on how to get her comfortable going to the doctor for testing despite the fact it could be really bad news?

abudson37 karma

Tell her that (1) it may be something as simple as a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid disorder that can be cured, and (2) even if it is Alzheimer's there are medications that can turn the clock back on the disease 6 to 12 months and the drugs work better when taken earlier.

TenchiRyokoMuyo16 karma

I'm 28, and my paternal grandfather died from complications due to Alzheimer's Disease. Do you truly believe there may be a cure by the time I have to worry about it? I hear constantly about so many 'miracle' solutions, things that counteract the physical development of the disease, and even can reverse current damage, but it just never seems to go somewhere.

I'm sure that's as frustrating for you as it is for me.

abudson38 karma

I feel confident that by the time you are old enough to worry about it we will be able to cure or prevent the disease. So don't worry about it now!

grimesey15 karma

Do people with Alzheimer's understand that they do, infact, have Alzheimer's. As in, when they're losing their mind and whatever else, are they aware they are losing their mind. And if so, is there a focus on counseling and support when they're in this predicament?

abudson25 karma

People with very early stages of Alzheimer's can definitely be aware that they have the disease. Here is a colleague who writes a wonderful blog about his experience. http://www.thediminishingwindow.net/. And yes, counseling and support are key.

FFConcussionProtocol14 karma

Firefighters report thousands of head injuries annually. More firefighters died from suicide than on duty injuries in 2017. Is there a risk of firefighters developing CTE considering the number of PTSD like symptoms firefighters report with the high rate of head injuries?

abudson17 karma

I think your insights are good and I agree that firefighters are at risk for CTE. YOU can help! Contact the Concussion Legacy Foundation https://concussionfoundation.org/ and/or the BU CTE center https://www.bu.edu/cte/ and start recruiting your colleagues to donate their brains after they have died. That is the only true way to answer your question.

fancybaton13 karma

I know I take too many antihistamines. I used to routinely take 25 mg of Benadryl before bed and have since switched to low dose Unisom. I've read that there's evidence that antihistamines are correlated with Alzheimer's. Am I doing damage by taking these meds chronically as a 33 year old? Or is the connection more related to using them in older age?

abudson24 karma

There is data to suggest that people who take antihistamines daily for sleep can predispose them to Alzheimer's disease. I would recommend trying to get off of them. Try exercising during the day instead.

UNTOLDfndn13 karma

Are you familiar with technology pausing Alzheimer's or Dementia using NIR or IR light to energise the mitochondria?

abudson16 karma

There is wonderful research going on using light therapy to treat Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. None, thus far, have been proven to be effective. But I am always hopeful!

millrockisland9 karma

Are there any population groups on earth who seem to show lower or non-existent rates of Alzheimer's or other dementia in old age? If so, what are some hypotheses about the reason for these lower rates?

abudson15 karma

There is a lot of research on blue zones which are areas where people live longer, healthier, lives. https://www.bluezones.com/ One thing they all have in common is aerobic exercise (often walking) and the Mediterranean diet.

ninjawasp8 karma

When we hear of people dying from 'Alzheimers' what does it mean? What exactly kills them?

abudson12 karma

You are correct that people don't strictly "die" from Alzheimer's disease; they die from complications like pneumonia.

purpleglitteralpaca7 karma

Hi. How far out do you feel we are in understanding Alzheimer’s causes and maybe eventually prevention?

abudson13 karma

Prevention in 10-20 years is absolutely possible. fingers crossed.

Tann19987 karma

Are there any good studies of using stem cells to treat Alzheimer's?

abudson15 karma

There have been a few small studies looking at stem cells in Alzheimer's disease which have not been effective, and no large studies have been done.

Groots_Arm6 karma

How would you best explain the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia to a 10 year old?

abudson9 karma

Most 10 year olds are pretty savvy. I think you could use the answer I gave below:

Dementia is the general term that simply means that memory and thinking have declined to the point that it interferes with day-to-day function. Alzheimer's one type (or one cause) of dementia. Other causes of dementia include vascular dementia (due to strokes), dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and others.

inmyelement6 karma

How are alzheimer and dementia connected?

abudson10 karma

Dementia is the general term that simply means that memory and thinking have declined to the point that it interferes with day-to-day function. Alzheimer's one type (or one cause) of dementia. Other causes of dementia include vascular dementia (due to strokes), dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and others.

Batou20346 karma

Is Turmeric an effective treatment, at least in slowing it down?

abudson28 karma

I love curries and Asian food, and I have my fingers crossed that Turmeric will be proven to be effective! But the evidence is not yet convincing in my view. But hey--no problem in eating curries if you like them!

cdawes335 karma

I'm a former athlete who has had 4 concussions. I'm interested in researching concussions, but have a hard time finding the career path. What are some fields that research concussions and all that is related to them? Thank you

abudson8 karma

I would recommend contacting the Concussion Legacy Foundation https://concussionfoundation.org/ . They can help you.

chopinrocks5 karma

Herpes and Alzheimers is there a link?

abudson12 karma

Yes. I believe that Alzheimer's disease is the body's over-reaction to an infectious disease. sort of like an auto-immune disease. One trigger for that reaction can be the brain trying to fight herpes virus. There are several scientific papers that support this point.

blendthis5 karma

I’ve noticed a shift in the literature in the past few years - amyloid beta is no longer the main point of interest, rather it’s tau. Do you think this re-evaluation of the biggest culprit of AD is promising? And, are BACE1 inhibitors really the “cure”?

abudson8 karma

You are correct. WE are shift from amyloid to tau because we have removed amyloid from the brain and it doesn't stop the disease. BACE inhibitors are not the cure; all trials of them have been failures. tau is definitely what spreads through the brain and most of us (including me) believe that if we can stop tau we can stop the disease.

ffjabre5 karma

What are your thoughts on using TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to treat Alzheimers?

abudson7 karma

There is a lot of good research looking at using TMS to treat Alzheimer's disease. I'm still waiting for the data, but am hopeful!

jackiewhitus4 karma

I'm going to be volunteering with a memory cafe supporting those with alzheimers and dementia for the next few months. Any advice for me?

abudson7 karma

Yes! I recommend that you read our book, Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory. It will tell you what you need to know. https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

iechyd_da4 karma

Why is definite diagnosis only post mortem with a brain biopsy?

abudson11 karma

We can be 80-90% sure with a standard evaluation and 90-95% sure with an amyloid PET scan. But looking at the brain under the microscope can both show the plaque and tangle pathology AND can rule out other pathologies. That is why it is the gold standard.

moookin4 karma

Is it true that Alzheimer’s usually skips one generation? So, if my grandparents both had it, my parent will be spared?

abudson11 karma

There is no evidence that it skips a generation.

millrockisland4 karma


abudson20 karma

There is a lot of active research to diagnose Alzheimer's disease earlier. We now have amyloid PET scans which are FDA approved that can diagnose Alzheimer's with greater than 90-95% certainty in the living person. Tau scans are also being developed. They may be able to diagnose CTE in living people in the near future.

abudson14 karma

Regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), we are working to try to understand what type and how much exposure is needed to cause the disease. We know that more hits are worse, but we don't know the minimum risk. But to extrapolate from the athletes that we know the most about, we believe it takes tens if not hundreds of hits get the disease. We wrote a book on this topic which you can find on our website https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

jacarr043 karma

How many brains of suicides and deceased w/depression, dementia, etc. have you examined at BU for CTe outside of contact sports and ex-military?

abudson5 karma

I don't have the numbers off the top of my head. you can check out https://www.bu.edu/cte/ as well as Dr. McKee's papers and some of the new articles. We also have numbers in our CTE book https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

OhNoRhino3 karma

What are the best ways to catch early onset Alzheimer's?

abudson5 karma

The best way to detect early onset Alzheimer's is to pay attention if someone is having trouble with their memory. We have specific advice in our books.

rendeath3 karma

Have you used machine learning to look for early detection signs? If so, what variables do you look at when building a neural net and training a model?

abudson3 karma

Many researchers are using these tools, but it is not the type of research that I do.

Nightmama5133 karma

What’s your opinion on the keto diet or water fasting as good preventative measures to take as it relates to Alzheimer’s?

abudson14 karma

There is no evidence that the keto diet is effective. However, there is evidence that maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy is very important. So if water fasting helps you achieve a healthy weight then that might be good for you. There is the most evidence for the mediterranean diet--that is what I recommend.

mythyme7203 karma

My mother is 65 and uses medical marijuana for chronic neck pain. It's worked wonders for her pain. She uses an oil that goes under the tongue and is low THC. She receives no kind of "high" from it. Prior to ever starting this she started to show significant signs of memory issues. These seem to have started getting worse. Could this be caused from the medical marijuana use?

abudson6 karma

yes, marijuana can absolutely cause memory loss, even without the high. take her off for a week or two and see how she does.

JustHere4Memes3 karma

We often associate AD with neurotransmitter depletion, but has there been significant progress in beta-amyloid removal and/or halting formation of plaques in the brain?

abudson6 karma

Yes! New drugs use molecules to stop the formation of beta-amyloid and others use antibodies to tag the plaques and then the body's immune system goes in to remove the plaques. See here for my thoughts on a new drug http://www.bu.edu/today/2018/promising-new-alzheimers-drug/

gardano3 karma

In terms of diet, my wife (early-onset) often refuses "good" food, and only wants to eat sweets. How can I best counteract this tendency?

abudson3 karma

Well, that is a good question. I think you need to balance the desire to have her live with the disease with her desire to eat the foods she wants. Perhaps you could make a deal that some days (or some parts of the day) she will get the sweets that she wants.

Jillian593 karma

My cousin was diagnosed at 53 with early onset Alzheimers. She died in May at age 60. What are the chances that her daughter will also have early onset Alzheimers?

abudson7 karma

If your cousin's mother or father also had it in their early 50's, then it is likely autosomal dominant and her daughter's risk would be 50%. If not, then it is not autosomal dominant and the risk is roughly 2-4 times higher than usual.

Ch0p-Ch0p2 karma

What kinds of things can help someone become a bit more lucid for a time being? I like to play my grandmas records for her and I’ve noticed she seems to come to life. Is there anything else I can do for her? Thank you so much for the work you do!

abudson2 karma

agree!! there is a great movie called "alive inside" which shows this as well.

jacarr042 karma

Are you actively trying to gain access to brains of suicides, depressives, dementias with no history of contact sport or military participation ? How can one draw any conclusions about TBI or CTE without doing this comparison?

abudson6 karma

Yes, we are actively working to compare the brains of individuals with CTE to those who suffered from mental health disorders without a TBI. That is a major focus. YOU can help if you want to recruit people to donate their brains after death. contact https://concussionfoundation.org/ and/or https://www.bu.edu/cte/.

itsbenoclock2 karma

Hi Andrew, do you consider research that shows music to be one of the most effective ways of “bringing back” the patients mind and memories to be correct? As in playing songs from their youth will bring back vivid memories and briefly improve their condition drastically? I’ve written a film concerning this and whilst I have put in the research to make sure I’m as close as possible to real science I’m always worried it’s not quite accurate.

abudson6 karma

I assume you are familiar with the move alive inside http://www.aliveinside.us/? I certainly agree that people can be "woken up" and engaged through music in ways that are different and better than anything else. Whether it improves their condition depends what you mean. I don't think it removes the plaques and tangle from the brain but it can definitely make people more engaged and happier.

Samwise_Ganji2 karma

I’ve often heard that people can have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Is this true? If my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother both have it, am I basically screwed?

abudson3 karma

No. details on genetics and family is in a response below, and you can read more in our book https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Managing-Your-Memory/dp/0190494956/

Ms_Black_Eyeliner2 karma

Hello. I have read studies that a very Lowcarb/ketogenic lifestyle is great in lowering the risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Do you agree? How do you feel about altering your diet for these long term benefits?

abudson4 karma

Data supports:

Aerobic exercise

Mediterranean diet

maintaining a healthy weight.

I do NOT believe that ketogenic diet is the right diet for most people. However, low carb is probably good. but you don't need to produce ketones.

SyspheanArchon2 karma

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into your field?

abudson3 karma

If you are in school study neuroscience or psychology. If not, volunteer at an Alzheimer's disease center like our! http://www.bu.edu/alzresearch/

thomasmaaloe2 karma

How do I know I have Alzheimers?

abudson2 karma

You could see your doctor or read one of the books that we and others have written on this topic.

-Emerica-2 karma

Do you have any thoughts on the claims that marijuana can reduce the chance of getting Alzheimer's?

abudson5 karma

Marijuana does NOT reduce the chance of getting Alzheimer's.

ArmyyStrongg2 karma

My aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around the age of 45 and now her son got diagnosed at the same age. Is there any significance in them being diagnosed so early to research, and why such the wide range of ages in all cases?

abudson3 karma

Most people who have the history you describe have one of the rare causes of autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. There is a large network doing research in individuals with this type of Alzheimer's. here is one https://dian.wustl.edu/

Tigerlily15102 karma

What are your thoughts on the possible brain healing properties of Lion's Mane mushroom? I could not find any conclusive research, but I am interested in your opinion on the subject.

abudson4 karma

There is no evidence that it helps Alzheimer's.

GuyTallman2 karma

I have heard some suggestions that the use of Hyperbaric Chambers can help people with Alzheimer's. Is this something new and promising?

abudson10 karma

There is no evidence for this and it is a huge waste of money.

AHelmine2 karma

Hello Dr. Andrew Budson,

I was wondering, what made you choose this career path / research?

Thanks you for the AMA and your work that will hopefully make peoples lives better.

abudson2 karma

As a physician, I have always wanted to help improve people's thinking and memory, and Alzheimer's is the most common disorder that affects them.

Meff-Jills1 karma

Is there a number on how many patients cope well with the disease? My grandmother suffered pretty heavy from it related to age (96) but wasn’t agitated about it or falling into bad moods, she was very well actually. I‘m asking cause I wonder if in some cases this disease is more hard to take for the people around the patient than for the patient itself, seeing that a loved person slowly loses its memory.

abudson4 karma

Alzheimer's disease affects people differently for reasons that we don't understand. many people have an easy time with it themselves and, yes, in those cases it is often harder for those around them.

TwoPhyro1 karma

What is something you think the public has misunderstood or dosen't know about Alzheimer's?

abudson2 karma

People think that you need to be quite demented--confused, getting lost, etc.--when you have Alzheimer's. The earlier stages have more subtle signs of memory problems and that is the best time to intervene, get treated, and perhaps enter a clinical trial.

johhnytexas1 karma

Is it true people who consume more than 12 drinks a week are at a much larger risk of developing Alzheimer's disease?

abudson2 karma

There is ample evidence that too much alcohol is bad for the brain. Here is a nice new article that discusses it https://www.popsci.com/moderate-drinking-benefits-risks

bartlask1 karma

How can a find out about research studies in the Boston area, live in Worcester?

abudson2 karma

learn more about our research here http://www.bu.edu/alzresearch/

currious1811 karma

How can I find & get an appointment with a neurologist who is up to date on research, diagnostics, and treatments? Getting my dad to actually go see a dr took over a year of begging and manipulation, and now has been going to a the same dr at Umass Worcester for about 3 years & they wont run any tests, and say "there are two types of pills we can prescribe" and that's it. I've asked about certain studies, researchers, treatments, etc & am always brushed off. how can I get him to a Good Dr who cares about the patient's & wants to help? A dr who knows about current treatments?

abudson2 karma

You need to see someone who is a memory expert. See my website https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/

DrColdReality1 karma

What's your take on the notion that Alzheimer's is an infectious disease? Is this just more lousy science reporting from the mass media, or is there genuine scientific concern?

abudson2 karma

I believe that Alzheimer's disease is the body's over-reaction to an infectious disease. sort of like an auto-immune disease.

Sweat_Tears_ortheSea1 karma

What are your thoughts on the research that is being conducted exploring the role viruses may play in the onset and develop of Alzheimer’s disease? https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/21/621908340/researchers-find-herpes-viruses-in-brains-marked-by-alzheimers-disease

abudson2 karma

I believe that Alzheimer's disease is the body's over-reaction to an infectious disease. sort of like an auto-immune disease. One trigger for that reaction can be the brain trying to fight herpes virus. There are several scientific papers that support this point.

blaiddunigol1 karma

I read somewhere that Longvida Curcumin can break the brain/blood barrier and has positive effects on removing tau protein tangles in the brain. Is this something that you would know about? Another question is if fasting can help prevent AD. Thanks.

abudson3 karma

I've responded to both of these below, so see below for longer answers. but briefly, there is not yet enough evidence for curcumin to convince me, and it is important to maintain a healthy body weight; fasting helps some people do that.

abudson3 karma

Inflammation in the brain is definitely bad, but people have tried this class of medications and it gave people ulcers and gastritis without evidence of benefit. so I don't recommend it.

TrentBinc1 karma

My grandma has developed what my family and doctors believe to be alzheimer’s or side effects for a mid-sleep stroke.

She has become pretty much unable to speak apart from yes and no, and when she is angry she just shakes her head furiously instead of vocalizing what it is she is angry about.

We have tried to take her to the doctor multiple times and get her tests etc to see what the cause is and if there is something we can help, but refuses to believe anything is wrong and if we even mention something might be wrong with her mentally she does her head shake of anger and says “go now” and trys to make us leave the house.

Its extremely depressing to see her deteriorate like this and we all just want to help. How can we convince her something is wrong or atleast convince her to get tests done to see what is wrong?

abudson2 karma

When the brain is not working correctly, the person may not have the capacity to make the right decision. If you have spoken to her doctor and she believes that she needs to be evaluated then you may need to call an ambulance to take her to the emergency room. If, on the other hand, one has decided that hospice is appropriate then the goal might be to make her comfortable. Everyone needs to decide what is best, but she sounds like she does not have the cognitive capacity to make the decision herself.

A_Very_Bad_Kitty1 karma

I recently read this NPR article which discusses the notion that a certain contagion might cause Alzheimer's.

Norins is quick to cite sources and studies supporting his claim, among them a 2010 study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery showing that neurosurgeons die from Alzheimer's at a nearly 2 1/2 times higher rate than the general population.

Another study from that same year, published in The Journal of the American Geriatric Society, found that people whose spouses have dementia are at a 1.6 times greater risk for the condition themselves.

Do you have any thoughts on whether there might be a germ component to Alzheimer's?

abudson1 karma

I believe that Alzheimer's disease is the body's over-reaction to an infectious disease. sort of like an auto-immune disease. I'm not convinced that it is contagious.

cykology1 karma

Do you know your APOE e4 carrier status and do you think polygenic risk testing for late-onset AD has any utility in the clinic?

abudson1 karma

I don't recommend testing for APOE e4 carrier status as half the people with AD have the disease--but the other half don't! I don't believe there is yet clinical utility of genetic testing for late-onset AD

msami921 karma

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and she has reached a stage where she is bed ridden. She doesn’t speak anything and has minimum movements. We have to feed her and change her, although it seems like she sometimes understands what is going on around her. Is this something common in the later stages of the disease, especially her understanding what is happening around her? I believe this disease runs in the family because my great grandmother also had this. Are there any precautions I can take or even my parents can take to prevent this from happening? My parents are in their early 60’s and I am mid 20’s.

abudson2 karma

Yes, that sounds common in the later stages, and yes, people can understand things even if they have lost language. We talk about the things that we can do in our books https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

nick17061 karma

If my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, what are my chances of getting it when I’m older? Does the likelihood change depending on whether I’m a man or a woman?

abudson3 karma

I've discussed family risk below. Here I will mention that two-thirds of individuals with Alzheimer's disease are women. The Women's Alzheimer's Movement http://thewomensalzheimersmovement.org/ is working to help women with the disease and to prevent the disease.

InsertIrony1 karma

My grandpa with Alzheimer's constantly seems to be zoning out, and when he isn't zoned out he mumbles a lot. Why?

abudson4 karma

When people are zoning in and out, I always worry about seizures. I think it is worth raising that issue to his doctor. There is also one disorder that often occurs with Alzheimer's called Lewy Body Disease (or Lewy Body Dementia) in which zoning in and out is part of the disorder. That could also be going on; but if it is, the treatment is the same as Alzheimer's. Lastly, sometimes patients with Alzheimer's in the moderate to severe stage can zone in and out.

Placebo171 karma

What is the link between pharmaceutical drugs and Alzeimers?

abudson1 karma

benzodiazepines and antihistamine sleep medications have been linked to Alzheimer's and, in any event, they can interfere with memory. There is a complete list of medications that interfere with memory in our books. https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

Lovelydea1 karma

What would be the earliest stages that you could notice in a loved one? My mother is overly forgetful to the point where we have to give her directions when she's driving home (to her own house) or even to my house. She laughs it off and says she has a lot on her mind. I've said for the past 5 years she should be checked for Alzheimers or something of the likes as her forgetfulness has been getting more severe (that example is nothing compared to what else she does). My family defends her and tells me to leave her alone, but no one can confirm a family history of it as grandpa was a raging alcoholic and grandma died very early on (in her mid 30's when my mom was 8). I'm adopted so I'm not as worried for myself, but this is my mom. To me this is serious but she refuses to go get examined or run any tests and her multiple brothers and sisters also all refuse to get examined or run tests on themselves. Is there anything I can do to convince her to go? I'm worried.

Edit: We are in Canada

abudson2 karma

I agree with your concerns. The book we wrote was written specifically for people like your mother, so perhaps she would be willing to read it https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books. You can also explain that you are concerned because you love her and you have learned that the medications work best when started early in the course of the disease. Lastly, it could be a simple vitamin deficiency or thyroid disorder that is easily treatable. she needs to get checked out.

WhiteSox14151 karma

Do you ever think Alzheimer’s will ever be cured? It’s kind of a broad question but I’m interested in how long you’ll think it take for this disease to be cured.

abudson5 karma

I think it will be screened for and prevented like colon cancer. hopefully this will happen in 10-20 years.

schroedingersdino1 karma

In class we were told that one could identify very early stages by finding plaques in the medulla oblongata. Is this already beeing used in diagnostics? Obviously a biopsy of that region would be fatal or at least too harmful.

Will there be the possibility of using the MRI for the diagnosis of early stages in closer future?

Thanks in advance

abudson3 karma

I don't think that is the way to go. Amyloid PET scan are available today to diagnose the disease.

illyafromuncle1 karma

Should humans be immortal?

abudson10 karma

Humans should not be immortal, but we should all work to maximize our cognitive function with the time we have on the planet.

Captain_Farts_1 karma

Are there affordable early warning tests ?

abudson2 karma

yes, there are pencil and paper tests and questionnaires, all reviewed in our books https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books

namikaze_gwj1 karma

Any thoughts on the new research from MIT indicating a potential cure via light?

abudson2 karma

I'm always hopeful, but waiting for the data.

oscarmyerwinner0 karma

Is there any actual evidence that neuro surgeons who operate on Alzheimers patient have a tiger rate of contracting Alzheimers?

Also what is the difference between Alzheimers and dementia?

Do you have any good articles that explain the similarities of prion diseases and Alzheimer's? (I have heard about theories regarding Alzheimer's being more like a prior disease, but I have not actually read more about this theory).

Thank you!

abudson2 karma

Dementia is the general term that simply means that memory and thinking have declined to the point that it interferes with day-to-day function. Alzheimer's one type (or one cause) of dementia. Other causes of dementia include vascular dementia (due to strokes), dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and others.

abudson1 karma

Neurosurgeons do not have a higher rate of developing Alzheimer's disease. It is not contagious in that way.

abudson1 karma

tau spreads through the brain like prion proteins do, from synapse to synapse. I'm sure if you use google scholar you can find some good articles.

jayhawx86-1 karma

Do I have Alzheimer's disease?

abudson1 karma

You can answer that question yourself with our book, Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Managing-Your-Memory/dp/0190494956/ That is why we wrote it.

LukeInDenver-2 karma

I had a great question, but I forgot it.

No, but seriously...How do people normally figure out they have Alzheimer's? What are the first signs or symptoms? What is the first thing a doctor might see that makes them think to check for Alzheimer's?

abudson1 karma

We cover this extensively in our book https://www.andrewbudsonmd.com/books but in a nutshell the first symptoms are forgetting information that people have learned, repeating questions and stories, and getting lost in familiar places.