Alzheimer's and Early Detection

SPRINGFIELD, MO -- A medical breakthrough may soon allow us to diagnose Alzheimer's disease before the symptoms start.

This week, folks in our community are doing their part to spread awareness of the disease. The Alzheimer's Association's Southwest Missouri Chapter say there are over 23,000 people diagnosed with the disease here. They are putting on free workshops this week for anyone interested in learning more about Alzheimer's.

"Alzheimer's is a progressive degenerative brain disease," says Rob Hulstra with the Alzheimer's Association Greater Missouri Chapter.

Now a medical breakthrough may help Alzheimer's patients and their loved ones. Vivienne Hill lost her mother to Alzheimer's disease. "It's horrible knowing that once your diagnosed with Alzheimer's it's a slow horrible journey," says Hill. Researchers at Kings College in London say they are developing a blood test that may diagnose Alzheimer's before a person has symptoms.

"Unfortunately there is no cure for this and it is fatal," says Hulstra. Some may view an early detection with no cure as added and unnecessary stress. "You can look at it that way. On the other side I like to look at it as plan ahead," says Hulstra.

"If we had that blood test it would have just reassured us, yes, something was wrong and we can start planning for the future," adds Hill. With this knowledge families can save up money, and make legal and financial plans.

Although these blood tests are not available yet, there are ten early detection signs of Alzheimer's disease. Hulstra lists a few. "When you forget familiar people... friends, family. You're confused with time, date and place," says Hulstra.

If you notice some of these signs, it doesn't necessarily indicate Alzheimer's Disease. It could be something else that is treatable.

There are ways Alzheimer's patients can cope with the disease. "Yes, talk about it. Talk with family, talk with friends, go to a support group. Exercise. Stay socially connected," says Hulstra.

The Alzheimer's Association's Greater Missouri Chapter is hosting another workshop Thursday morning in Branson. It's free and open to the public.

For more information, call Rob Hulstra at 417-886-2199, or visit:

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