Author Archive

Alzheimer’s ABC’s: Cognitive Changes (Depression and AD)

Depression and Alzheimer’s
In the first three posts (1, 2, 3) of this series we explored how to identify and understand many symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as well as how to use them to build a historical timeline.  These posts provide a good foundation for moving forward in our basic understanding of AD.

In this post we move into the topic of cognitive changes associated with early AD, and include an exercise you can try with your loved ones at home. Read More

Alzheimer's ABC's: Understanding Early Warning Signs

In the last post we began to take a closer look at some of the more widely known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as well as to explore the differences between normal aging and cognitive impairment within those symptoms.  In this post I am going to provide you a list of areas in your day-to-day life where symptoms of AD appear, to help you better distinguish normal aging from the signs of something more serious. Read More

Alzheimer's ABC's: Understanding The Symptoms

This is the second post in a blog series by Dr. John Dougherty, intended to simplify and demystify Alzheimer’s disease, and help you better recognize the signs and symptoms.

In the last post we learned that the single most important place to begin our understanding of Alzheimer’s is history. I start the process by building a timeline from symptom onset with the individual (and family members).  In the next few posts we’ll take a look at Alzheimer’s symptoms. We begin the list today with some of the more widely known symptoms, but we examine more closely how to distinguish signs of normal aging from those of possible impairment within them.

Repeated and persistent signs of forgetfulness
As people age they frequently complain of losing keys, losing a wallet or purse, a checkbook, or some other staple item.  With normal aging you may forget where you parked your car after shopping, or you may forget a turn or two in the car but not be lost. Read More

Alzheimer's ABC's: Start With Where We've Been

This is part of a blog series by Dr. John Dougherty, to simplify and demystify Alzheimer’s disease, and help you better recognize the signs and symptoms.

As the first in a series of posts I’d like to begin my telling you a bit about myself.  I’ve been a neurologist for 25 years, and an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) specialist for more than 10 years.  As the Director of the Cole Neuroscience Center in Knoxville, TN I currently follow over 2,000 patients with AD in my practice.

I lost my mother, my uncle and my grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease.  My mother died in her mid-eighties, and had AD symptoms for almost 15 years prior to her death. Read More

Introduction to ALZselftest by Dr. Dougherty

As a neurologist of 25 years, I have specialized in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) for almost fifteen.  I currently follow over 2,000 AD patients in my practice and have personally experienced the immense toll that this disease takes on care givers. It was painful watching my own mother suffer with AD for more than 15 years.

When my mother was diagnosed our medical understanding of AD was very different, far more limited than what we know today. At the time (and still to a large extent today), physicians relied on a basic paper-based test called the Mini-Mental Status Evaluation (MMSE), to diagnose people with AD. The MMSE was developed over 30 years ago and has been shown to be less than 70% effective in diagnosing AD.

As our AD knowledge base expanded I began doing more research and in 2002, created the Self Test, an AD screening test which demonstrated 97% accuracy in clinical trials in differentiating between people with cognitive impairment or AD and otherwise healthy individuals. The success of the Self Test offered a much more effective means of screening for AD, but I was dismayed to know that 60% of people with AD are still going undiagnosed in a primary care setting.

There are many reasons for this, including a lack of sufficient health care coverage, difficulty getting primary care physicians to screen for AD before full onset of the disease, resistance by elders to be screened, and many others. This number is not only unacceptable, it is unnecessary. Read More