Kensington Park’s Annual Speaker Series: Local Author Spotlight
Tuesday, June 18th at 2pm: Philip Padgett, Author of Advocating Overlord: The D-Day Strategy and the Atomic Bomb
Spots are limited. Click HERE & RSVP Today!
Open Mobile Menu
Kensington Park’s Annual Speaker Series: Local Author Spotlight
Tuesday, June 18th at 2pm: Philip Padgett, Author of Advocating Overlord: The D-Day Strategy and the Atomic Bomb
Spots are limited. Click HERE & RSVP Today!
Open Mobile Menu

Can Regular Eye Exams Assist in Catching Alzheimer’s?

Our optometrist is our professional we seek to ensure our vision is in check, but can eye exams catch Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), named for neuropathologist Aloysius Alzheimer, who first identified the disorder in 1901, is the most common form of dementia, currently affecting 5.8 million Americans and projected to reach 14 million people by 2050.

The “markers” for AD — sticky plaques that accumulate in the brain from abnormally folded proteins, causing inflammation and cellular damage — can only be positively identified on autopsy. Therefore, doctors typically make an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by testing for and eliminating other possibilities.

This means that by the time symptoms of Alzheimer’s are apparent to others, a senior’s memory impairment is already well underway.

Waiting for Visible Warning Signs

Diagnosing and beginning treatment before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear is key to managing the disease. But up until now, the principal form of early detection was when a family member or friend began to notice someone exhibiting symptoms that might indicate dementia. These warning signs include:

  • Personality or mood changes: Confusion, fear, hallucinations and anxiety may all be signs of encroaching Alzheimer’s.
  • Time or place confusion. Not knowing what day it is, or how they got somewhere.
  • Being lost for words. Repeating a story in the same conversation, or suddenly stopping in the middle of a sentence.
  • Misplacing items. Keys in the freezer or laundry in the oven? Or perhaps thinking someone is stealing their belongings because they can’t find what they misplaced.
  • Problem solving fails. Can no longer balance the checkbook or follow a recipe they used to prepare with ease.
  • Social withdrawal.Preferring to stay home and watch TV versus going out with friends means there’s less risk of making a mistake.
  • Visual changes. Brain changes that cause memory loss make it harder to read, judge distances, and tell colors apart.
  • Difficulty making decisions. Bad judgment can be an early sign of dementia. Giving money to telemarketers, forgetting to shower, or dressing inappropriately.
  • Excessive visual cues. Someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may forget new information right after learning it, or rely heavily on posted reminders for everyday information.
If you have questions about the care our team at Kensington Park Senior Living can provide, please don’t wait to get in touch with us.

The Eyes Have It: Detecting Alzheimer’s — and Heart Disease

When Shakespeare wrote, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” he probably didn’t foresee that half a millennium hence, the eyes would also be the window to the body.

New research opens a window into both Alzheimer’s and heart disease — through the eyes.

In a fascinating new study, researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health found that glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia — but other eye diseases that affect older adults, such as cataracts, had no apparent connection to dementia. The common thread? Cardiovascular disease.

Here’s a summary of their findings regarding the connection between eye health and heart disease:

  • Glaucoma, a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball that causes gradual loss of sight, is also linked to high blood pressure and poor blood circulation, precursors to heart disease.
  • Macular degeneration, a degenerative condition affecting the central part of the retina, has been linked to heart disease.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in people who have had diabetes for 20 years or more, also carries strong links to cardiovascular disease.

The longitudinal study, which began in 1994, followed 5400 adults who did not have dementia. When researchers analyzed the data in 2019, they focused on participants with and without eye disease who went on to develop dementia in later years.

They found those with diabetic retinopathy and recently diagnosed glaucoma each had a 44 percent higher rate of dementia than those without these eye diseases. Study participants with age-related macular degeneration had a 20 percent greater dementia risk.

Since there is not yet a cure or means of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, the best course of action, say researchers, is preventing cardiovascular disease by reducing high blood pressure, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Under Pressure: Another Study Linking Eyes to Alzheimer’s

Another recent study, conducted at Boston Medical Center, found that low levels of amyloid beta and tau proteins (the markers for Alzheimer’s disease) present in eye fluid were significantly associated with low cognitive scores.

Using eye fluid from 80 patients who were previously scheduled for eye surgery, researchers tested the fluid to determine the levels of amyloid beta and tau proteins. Typically, this fluid is discarded following surgery, so it had never been examined previously. The patients were also administered a baseline cognitive test.

The results, say researchers, reaffirm studies suggesting that patients with eye disease are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

In a separate but related study, researchers found that reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye may be another, non-invasive way to diagnose early cognitive impairment.

At Kensington Park, We Have Our Eye On Your Health

At Kensington Park, we take this new research to heart, and always have. Our fine dining team strives to make each meal a delicious experience, for our memory care residents as well as for those who enjoy our assisted living and independent living accommodations.

Our exceptional Director of Dining Services, Morissa Harris, grew up cooking beside her dad, so palate pleasing is in her nature. We even maintain our own herb/produce garden here at Kensington Park. Chef Morissa selects appropriate items for upcoming menus — following a discussion with residents about what they’d like to eat.

We also offer an extensive Life Enrichment program of ever-changing activities to keep our beloved residents physically fit and socially engaged. We partner with a number of community organizations to enrich the lives of all our residents with an eye on health, well being, and the prevention of disease.

Come visit us at Kensington Park soon. We have an eye for exceptional senior living, and consider all of our residents to be family.

Further Reading:

Memory loss is life changing for all involved. At Kensington Park, we provide a state-of-the-art memory care program, a higher staff-to-resident ratio than industry standards, and more advanced care services. Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.

For additional resources regarding your loved one’s condition, please read on about our Memory Care, Alzheimer’s Care and Dementia Care.

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