Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
The word ‘dementia’ stems from Latin and can be literally translated as ‘parting of the mind’. It manifests itself as a progressive deterioration of cognitive functions (memory, reasoning, problem solving etc.) that affect a person’s global functioning and independence. In the advanced stages of dementia, affected persons usually require full-time care.
Dementia, especially in its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, but also in the less common forms of Parkinson’s disease, Lewy-body dementia, and Vascular dementia, threatens to become a pandemic over the coming decades. This is a consequence of an increase in life expectancy in the Western Civilizations. The risk of becoming affected by dementia changes from one in thirteen between the ages of 65 and 74 to one in four over the age of 85 – a dramatic increase. The elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population in Canada. People over age 85 are expected to exceed 20 percent by 2050. This makes prevention and treatment of the dementias a critical task of all aging research during the coming decades.
Prevention – the new major focus of aging research
Prevention has been identified as an important objective in dementia research by national and international institutes (Alzheimer Society of Canada, National Institute of Aging USA) and is a priority of McGill University over the next decade. The McGill Centre for Studies in Aging contributes to this effort with its PONDER Dementia Prevention Program (Prevention of Neurodegenerative Disease in Everyone at Risk) (www.ponder.mcgill.ca).
The McGill Centre for Studies in Aging Dementia Prevention Program
Through this program, we are:
- recruiting adult subjects (40 to 90 years of age) and seeking consent to assess and store their cognitive, sociodemographic, and psychological data;
- analyzing data dynamically, monitoring changes over time;
- provide cognitive training critical areas;
- facilitating early intervention for subjects who proceed to develop mild forms of dementia;
- contributing to the coordination of optimal care for those subjects who proceed to more severe forms of dementia, and
- Integrating the results from these interventions into new treatment and intervention plans to develop a holistic approach for the prevention and early intervention of age related neurodegenerative disease.
This program, in close cooperation with the Douglas Institute and the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, and other research Centers in Quebec, optimizes community prevention and allows for optimal treatment for affected individuals while providing researchers with important data about possible predictors of dementia.