Testing important in detecting early onset Alzheimer’s

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- Local specialists say early onset Alzheimer’s can be found in people as young as their late 30s.

New clinical trials are now taking place every year to figure out how to slow down the disease and ultimately cure it.

“It’s a tragic course that these early onsets take, even though it’s only 5 percent,” said Dr. Frederick Schaerf, a neuropsychiatrist in Fort Myers. “It’s really a much more debilitating and quick course than the sporadic-type that we’re used to seeing.”

Schaerf says early onset Alzheimer’s is fairly uncommon but when it’s found, it moves quickly from detection, to not being able to drive, to death from medical conditions the disease can cause.

“The best recommendation is for people to get tested, so you have neuropsychological testing which actually gets a full blueprint of your brain,” Schaerf explained.

Schaerf says just like with mental disorders, there’s a stigma that causes people to avoid getting help, “people don’t want to talk about it, they’re worried about it, they don’t realize when they have it because it’s affecting their organ of reason, their brain.”

But, Schaerf adds there is hope. In 2015, a new clinical study took off at the Neuropsychiatric Research Center.

“The infusion of the antibodies against a protein in the brain showed that it stopped the disease from progressing, and those trials are going on now,” Schaerf said.

Schaerf also adds although there’s no recommended age to get neurological screening done, he suggests getting tested around age 50.

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