DEAR DR. MICHELLE,
I’ve heard there is a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. Is this true and how can I get tested?
There are a number of blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease, and some are commercially available. Your doctor could order one, but insurance will not yet cover the cost. These tests measure certain proteins in blood that originate in the brain and may indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. The accuracy of these tests is best when interpreted by specialists in the context of a more comprehensive memory evaluation.
One way to get access to a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is through clinical research that may be using these blood tests to study early detection, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer’s. Participation in clinical trials using blood markers will help researchers further refine these tests so that they may, eventually, be used in a primary care setting to aide in early diagnosis and treatment effectiveness.
Widespread availability of accurate blood tests detecting the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease will be a major breakthrough in providing all individuals the opportunity to be diagnosed early and have the most options for treatment interventions. We are not quite there, but closer than we’ve ever been.
DEAR DR. MICHELLE,
What is the best diet for keeping the mind sharp as you get older?
The Mediterranean style diet has been shown contribute to healthy brain aging. The general principles include eating fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, grains, and moderate amounts of lean proteins, dairy, and healthy fat/oil. It is very difficult to determine, specifically, which diet is best for each individual.
Following the general guidelines of a Mediterranean style diet, individualized to your needs, is probably a great place to start. From there, seeking additional input from doctors and specialists may be an added benefit. I always recommend choosing something you can stick with long-term. Overly strict diets tend to be short-term and often self-sabotaging.
Recent research shows that the effects of brain healthy eating begin whenever you do. So, it’s never too late to start. Every little step in the right direction gets you closer to your goal of keeping the mind sharp and your body happy. Happy healthy eating!
*Michelle Papka, Ph.D. is the Founder of The Cognitive and Research Center of New Jersey (The CRCNJ) in Springfield, NJ. The mission of The CRCNJ is to provide no-cost diagnostic, treatment and supportive resources through clinical research opportunities to people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.