Advancing Understanding: Research On Alzheimer's Findings

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent form of dementia that significantly impacts an individual’s memory, thinking skills, and behavior. Because of the significance of this disease, many scientists, doctors, and psychologists have studied it throughout the last century. Understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia research findings may equip those diagnosed with the disease and their caregivers with the knowledge to make informed decisions regarding treatment and daily routines. 

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Alzheimer’s research further with professional guidance

The history of Alzheimer's research

A “peculiar disease” was first identified in 1906 by German physician Alois Alzheimer, who noticed significant shrinkage in a patient’s brain upon conducting an autopsy. This discovery led to the naming of the condition. Since the early 1900s, the medical community has made considerable strides in advancing diagnosis, treatment, and caregiver support through innovative research.

The invention of the electron microscope in the 1930s enabled scientists to study brain cells and abnormal activity at close range. In 1968, researchers created the first scales used to measure cognitive decline in older adults, which practitioners used to have the capacity to determine and communicate with patients the degree to which cognitive impairment was progressing.

Alzheimer’s research received a tremendous boost in 1974 when the National Institute of Aging was established. In the 21st century, this organization is the primary federal organization supporting research focused on Alzheimer’s disease. Other groups, like the Alzheimer’s Association, were founded in the 1980s. In this decade, beta-amyloid proteins, the key elements of Alzheimer’s brain plaques perpetuating neuron damage, were identified.

Historical milestones in Alzheimer's research

Since Alzheimer’s has been more widely understood, the US and global population have continued to benefit from Alzheimer’s research. Major historical milestones include:

  • 1993: The identification of the first Alzheimer’s risk factor gene and FDA approval of the first Alzheimer’s treatment drugs
  • 1999: An Alzheimer’s vaccine showed success in curbing symptoms when tested on mice
  • 2008: The Alzheimer’s Association and the CDC launched the Healthy Brain Initiative alongside 44 evidence-based behaviors that may prevent cognitive impairment
  • 2012: The initiation of the first major clinical trial testing drug therapy to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
  • 2021: FDA approval of Aducanumab as the first therapy for addressing the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease

The discoveries facilitated by research funding have changed the lives of countless people affected by Alzheimer’s, as well as their caregivers. Dementia is a top contributor to one out of three deaths among senior citizens in the United States. 

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that caregivers invest approximately 18 billion hours of care annually, which could be valued at $339.5 billion. In continuing to fund research on Alzheimer’s disease and mild dementia, findings can provide significant relief to caregivers and possibly enable people to live longer and healthier lives.
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Real-world applications of Alzheimer's research

Research on Alzheimer's can play a vital role in uncovering information about the disease.  After receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, gaining an understanding of the disease through available research findings related to potential lifestyle adaptations, novel treatments, and effective coping mechanisms can provide a sense of control and direction. 

Knowledge may equip individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early stages of Alzheimer’s disease to make informed decisions about their treatment and care plans. Below are a few other ways Alzheimer’s research may positively impact the current world and individuals interacting with it. 

Alzheimer’s research identifies early detection markers

Clinical research into Alzheimer’s disease continues to evolve, unlocking a new understanding of the disease and possible solutions for treating it. Key trends focus on early detection methods, recognizing risk factors, and pioneering new treatment options. These early detection techniques and early Alzheimer’s disease research strive to identify the disease progression and disease process before the significant symptoms, like the formation of amyloid plaques. This early diagnosis may provide individuals, including those with moderate Alzheimer's disease, with an opportunity to manage the condition sooner. 

Alzheimer’s research recommends helpful lifestyle changes

Alzheimer’s research isn’t limited to understanding the medical aspects of the condition. It also delves into potential lifestyle adjustments that could slow the progression of cognitive decline. These adjustments might include specific dietary changes, increased physical activity, or cognitive exercises. Physical activity can increase blood flow to the brain, reduce the stiffness of the blood vessels, and prevent cholesterol plaque build-up in the vessels leading to the brain.

Identifying risk factors broadens the scope for preventative strategies, potentially curbing the disease’s impact on future generations. Approximately 150 million people worldwide are expected to be affected by dementia by 2050. While there are several ways people can change their behavior to lower their risk of heart disease and cancer, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding or stopping smoking, there are a few similar steps that have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. 

Alzheimer’s research informs public policy

The insights gained from clinical trial participants can be pivotal in shaping public policies and the allocation of resources. A robust and evidence-based understanding of the disease can drive health policies, leading to necessary reforms to better support patients and their families.

This evidence can also guide funding and support services distribution, ensuring they reach the areas of greatest need. Consequently, Alzheimer’s research not only contributes to scientific understanding but can foster a more compassionate and aware society for those experiencing the challenges of this disease.

Coping and support strategies enhanced by Alzheimer's research

Alzheimer’s research can play a vital role in developing effective coping strategies for those affected by this complex disease, whether patients or caregivers. Not only can these insights inform potential Alzheimer’s treatments, which focus on managing symptoms and slowing the degeneration of brain cells, but they can also aid in understanding the multi-faceted mental health needs of those significantly impacted by the disease.

This comprehensive understanding can be pivotal in tackling the wide-ranging challenges Alzheimer’s may cause, which often extend beyond the physical to the emotional and psychological realms. In addition, the application and thoughtful interpretation of research findings can significantly enhance personal resilience, encourage vital self-care practices, and foster healthy emotional well-being among caregivers and patients.

The depth of understanding provided by Alzheimer's research may underscore the importance of seeking professional help for mental health challenges. The journey through Alzheimer's may be challenging, and it can be crucial for individuals to know they are not alone. The support available goes beyond informal circles, extending to professional caregivers, therapists, and support groups. 

By ensuring patients and caregivers have access to the professional support they require, research reinforces that seeking such help can be an effective strategy beneficial in navigating the emotional and physical demands of the disease.

Alzheimer’s research further with professional guidance

Professional support options

In some cases, it may be challenging for individuals with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers to seek support in person due to scheduling, cost, and other accessibility challenges. In these cases, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may be beneficial. 

Online therapy can be a valuable and accessible tool for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, potentially bridging the gap between traditional mental health support and the evolving needs of patients and caregivers. Digital platforms do not have geographical constraints, which could be particularly beneficial for those who struggle to leave home or have limited access to specialized services in their area. 

Additionally, online therapy can offer a space to discuss and understand new research findings on Alzheimer’s and how they can be applied to everyday life. By learning and adapting in real-time, online therapy can make the latest research insights an integral part of coping strategies and treatment plans. 

One study conducted a systematic review of articles investigating the use of telemedicine among older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that focused on the patient and care partner perspectives. The results showed the successful implementation of telemedicine, supported by patient and care partner satisfaction, and similar results on cognitive assessment and diagnosis compared to in-person visits and improvement in outcome measures following rehabilitation.


Alzheimer's research is not a distant academic endeavor but a source of practical strategies that may enhance the quality of life for patients and caregivers alike. The findings drawn from this research can inform coping strategies, shape public policies, and inform treatment options, often shaping a more supportive and understanding society for those navigating the disease. 

The advances brought about by clinical trials and ongoing studies represent a constant source of hope. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease or obtain professional caregiver support on convenient terms, consider contacting a therapist online or in your area.

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