Don't Chalk Forgetfulness Up to Normal Aging
The National Institute on Aging is also conducting a nationwide Alzheimer's prevention study targeting patients with mild cognitive impairment. Researchers hope to determine whether vitamin E or donepezil, a drug currently marketed for patients with Alzheimer's, can slow or reverse memory loss.
"I think that within the decade there will be drugs that delay the progression of Alzheimer's and maybe even prevent the disease," says Buckholtz. "We should also have more sophisticated ways of diagnosing it. People are working to develop a blood test, and that will make a huge difference."
Buckholtz and Storandt agree that physicians need to take the concerns of their older patients more seriously, and not chalk memory problems up to normal aging.
"It is ageist to think that people naturally have declines [in thought processes] as they get older," Storandt tells WebMD. "We have evidence that people can do extremely well ... even into their 90s. But at this point, many primary care physicians still dismiss concerns about memory loss, and we are saying that maybe they shouldn't."