NHPR Panel Discussion About the Latest in Alzheimer’s Research

I was recently on a panel discussion on New Hampshire Public Radio’s program The Exchange, along with Dr. Robert Santulli, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth, Director of the Dartmouth Memory Clinic and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and  Meg Curtis, an Alzheimer’s advocate and widow of Skip Curtis who passed away at age sixty-two from Alzheimer’s.

Photo from Alz.org

In our discussion we talked a lot about the research and testing that has been done on treatments and drugs that could potentially impact those with Alzheimer’s disease. Recent testings have had disappointing results, however these tests were conducted with participants who have Alzheimer’s disease. One thing we know about the advancement of dementia: once a brain cell has been destroyed, you cannot recreate it – that is, it’s gone for good. Treatments at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease related dementia can therefore only do so much. There is an imperative need to conduct treatment testing and clinical trials on much earlier stages of the disease –  even on healthy people. Dr. Robert Santulli put it so well in our discussion, “The effort needs to be on treating people before they show any signs of the disease.”

In our discussion with host Laura Knoy, we also talked about new methods for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, the link between cognitive decline and depression, and the importance of eating well and exercise. Meg Curtis and the contributing callers to the program delved into the hardship of caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s related dementia. Their stories highlight the need for additional research. Please, take a moment to listen to our panel discussion, and share your thoughts with us.