Alzheimer's Research and Caregiving Highlighted This Weekend

Nov 15, 2013

Sanders Brown Center on Aging Director Linda Van Eldik

The number of Kentuckians with Alzheimer’s Disease is expected to grow greatly.  Currently, the disease afflicts 80-thousand patients here.  Plus, as baby boomers age, more will suffer from dementia.  Director of the Sanders Brown Center on Aging Linda Van Eldik says researchers are making progress in slowing the disease.



“You know, it’s been estimated that we don’t actually have to completely cure the disease.  If we could just find a disease that was effective at delaying the onset of the disease for only five years, we would basically cut the amount of prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in half,” said Van Eldik.


Given the cost, the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease is challenging.  Brain scans can help spot the fatal illness well before there’s any noticeable memory loss.  Still, they’re expensive and Van Eldik doesn’t anticipate their widespread use.


“Now the costs are going down as technology improves, but right at the moment we’re not at the point where it would be routinely available to everyone in the clinic,” added Van Eldik.


As Kentucky’s baby boomers age, the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase.  The number of Kentuckians, now at 80-thousand, is also anticipated to go up sharply.  Van Eldik says these trends will likely increase the need for long term care facilities.


“It’s many times very difficult as the disease progresses to higher severity, for the individuals to stay in the home.  So I think there will be a greater demand for places, long term care facilities, or nursing homes, or other types of facilities, to be able to take care of the many more people that are gonna have dementia,” explained Van Eldik.


The public portion of the annual Markesberry Symposium on Aging and Dementia is Saturday at the Lexington Convention Center.  Plus, next Tuesday, free memory tests will be administered as part of National Memory Screening Day.   They will be conducted at the Polk Dalton Clinic on Elm Tree Lane in Lexington from 9:30 until 12:30.  Memory screening will also take place at the Sanders Brown Center on Aging site at 1030 South Broadway between one and four.