by Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
A rapid decline in thinking and memory skills often heralds the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reports. The findings are consistent with earlier findings that Alzheimer’s is often preceded by an accelerated loss of memory as well as other thinking skills like attention, visual and spatial awareness, and judgment, making it difficult for those with the disease to find their way or do things like balance a checkbook.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, from the American Academy of Neurology, found that memory loss and other cognitive problems may decline rapidly in people who have mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, a form of serious memory loss that sometimes precedes the full-fledged dementia of Alzheimer’s. The memory loss is notably more severe than the ordinary mental decline that can accompany aging. Memory problems decline even more rapidly once Alzheimer’s is present.
“These results show that we need to pay attention to this time before Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, when people are just starting to have problems forgetting things,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the study’s authors.