June 22, 2021
At Continuum, we love offering helpful tips for dementia caregivers. These latest research findings are showing promise for better targeted treatments in the future.
For many years, experts have been examining the advancement of Alzheimer’s through one basic model, even though not all Alzheimer’s diagnoses present with the same symptoms and progression.
However now, a new, collaborative study between the US, Canada, Sweden, and Korea is uncovering some fascinating information to help us better understand and treat Alzheimer’s. Rather than one universal, dominant diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, researchers have discovered that there are 4 distinguishable variants that occur in as many as 18 – 30% of cases. This shift in thinking is helping researchers more accurately comprehend the variations in the disease from person to person.
The findings are also significant in that they are allowing specialists to begin to individualize treatment plans based on the particular subgroup diagnosed.
The research reviewed data from over 1,600 men and women, identifying more than 1,100 who were either in various stages of Alzheimer’s or who were not cognitively impaired at all. Following these participants over a two-year period allowed researchers to funnel each individual who presented tau abnormalities into four distinct sub-groups:
- Subgroup 1: Occurring in as many as one out of three diagnoses, this variant features the spreading of tau within the temporal lobe. The predominant impact is on memory.
- Subgroup 2: Impacting the cerebral cortex, the second variant has less of an effect on memory and much more on executive functioning, such as carrying out actions or planning activities. It affects about one out of five Alzheimer’s patients.
- Subgroup 3: In this variant, the visual cortex is impacted, affecting an individual’s orientation to self, capacity to distinguish distance, shapes, contours, movement, and an object’s location in relation to other objects. Much like the first variant, it occurs in about one in three diagnoses.
- Subgroup 4: This variant represents an asymmetrical spreading of tau in the left hemisphere of the brain, resulting in the largest effect on language and occurring in about one out of five cases of Alzheimer’s.
Oskar Hansson, professor of neurology at Lund University and supervisor of the study, details future steps: “…we need a longer follow-up study over five to ten years to be able to confirm the four patterns with even greater accuracy.”
Regardless of which type of dementia an older adult has, Continuum’s caregivers receive significant training in helping manage any challenges while emphasizing his or her strengths. Call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 and let us customize a plan of care to enhance life for a senior loved one with dementia. As the leading provider of senior in-home care in St. Louis and surrounding locations, we’re here for you with just the right level of care at the right time.