First Alzheimer’s Risk Assessment and Intervention Clinic in U.S.

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJanuary 19, 2015

The first Alzheimer’s Risk Assessment and Intervention Clinic in the United States has opened at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Learn more about this clinic and how it is helping people living with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers.

Supporting Both Patient and Caregiver

The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) has opened an Alzheimer’s Risk Assessment and Intervention Clinic, the first of its kind in the U.S. The goal of the clinic is to help people living with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers who are often overwhelmed by caregiving responsibilities and the destructive nature of the disease.

Neurologist David Geldmacher, M.D., is the head of the Division of Memory Disorders at UAB and is credited with the creation of the clinic. He observed that both people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers needed more guidance and teaching than they were receiving.

Patients at the clinic will receive resources that will help them make lifestyle changes to minimize their risk for Alzheimer’s as well as learn coping strategies to help them deal with the stress that the disease can bring on families.

Early Risk Assessment for Prevention

In addition to providing resources for caregivers and those living with Alzheimer’s, the clinic also evaluates the risk of the disease. The Intervention Clinic established risk factors for Alzheimer’s based on international studies.

The two visit process is $1,000 and patients will be given a personalized risk assessment based on the established risk factors as well as a baseline MRI scan, a memory assessment, cognitive testing and family history risk. The data is then put into existing predictor models.

Dr. Geldmacher said:

“I recognized the need for a dementia risk-assessment clinic because a lot of my time in the care of people with memory loss is spent advising people without memory loss how to protect themselves.”

He continues: “It’s about an hour-and-a-half process of collecting a detailed risk-factor history, and we focus on the reversible risk factors. So many people facing dementia focus on the irreversible risk factors, such as ‘I’m getting older’ or ‘my dad or mom had dementia.’ We can’t change those things, but we can change things like levels of physical activity and cholesterol counts and blood-pressure numbers.”

Because there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, prevention is the best way to stay healthy and free from the disease. The Risk Assessment and Intervention Clinic is helping people change their lives to maintain independence, boost brain health and slow or delay Alzheimer’s by providing them resources and insight into the disease they may not otherwise receive.

Dr. Gelmacher stated: “For most people, Alzheimer’s disease is an illness you live with, not an illness from which you die,” the physician stated. “With a better understanding of individual risk, there are steps that people can take to minimize the risk for serious memory loss. One of the common themes for both short-term and long-term risk is cardiovascular health, which is something that is more or less under our control through lifestyle changes or medications.”

The clinic believes that their research models provide an accurate and reliable assessment for the next 20 years, which is particularly helpful for caregivers concerned about their own future.

What do you think about the new Alzheimer’s Risk Assessment and Intervention Center? Would you use it for risk assessment or resources? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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