Age is the greatest risk factor for memory loss and dementia. Dementia is defined as a cognitive decline that interferes with independent functioning. Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and has a gradual onset and progression associated with abnormal protein deposits—amyloid plaques and tau tangles—that accumulate in the patient’s brain regions that control thinking and memory. Even if there is no cure for the underlying cause of AD, treatments are available that stabilize symptoms and help people remain healthier longer. The faculty will describe current assessment and treatment methods for AD and milder forms of age-related cognitive decline. In addition to medical interventions, recent research has shown that a healthy lifestyle can protect brain health as people age. A healthy brain lifestyle includes regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, stress management, and mental stimulation. Healthy lifestyle programs that seem most effective include three elements: educating patients about the association between daily habits and brain health, setting reasonable goals, and providing feedback of initial success to motivate participants.

Learning Objectives:

  • Assess and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias
  • Recognize available treatments and those in development
  • Recognize how healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise and not smoking, may benefit cognition and delay the onset of dementia symptoms