People With Early Dementia Don’t Know Some Famous People

Sometimes determining is someone is starting to experience dementia is difficult. A new study, focusing entirely on early-onset dementia, developed a test involving the recognition that for the most part, all of us should know. Read on to learn more about this interesting study. Thanks again for visiting us at Advocare, providing Geriatric Care Management and GCM based home-care to area South Florida residents of Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and more.

People ages 40 to 65 with a type of early-onset dementia are less likely to be able to name — or even recognize — very famous folks such as Princess Di, Oprah Winfrey, John F. Kennedy, Lucille Ball and Elvis Presley than those who don’t have this type of dementia, a new study shows.

“People with this type of dementia consistently forget names of famous people they once knew — it’s more than forgetting a name or two of a famous person,” says senior author Emily Rogalski, an assistant research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes neurodegenerative diseases that cause changes in thinking abilities that interfere with daily activities, Rogalski says. Early-onset dementia, also called young-onset dementia, mostly affects people under 65 and can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, she says.

Rogalski and colleagues worked with 27 people without dementia and 30 study participants who had been diagnosed with a type of early-onset dementia called primary progressive aphasia. It mostly damages language skills and gets worse over time, Rogalski says. The average age of participants in both groups in the study was 62. All were asked to identify 20 famous people in black-and-white photos.

Participants were given points if they could give the exact name of the individual. If they could not give the name, then they were asked to give some relevant details about the person and then assigned points based on that. All participants had MRI brain scans.

Among the findings published in this week’s issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology:

• People with this type of early-onset dementia could name about half (46%) of the famous people; they scored 79% in recognizing them and naming some characteristics. Those without dementia scored 93% in naming the celebrities; 97% in recognizing them.

• Those who struggled with naming the person were more likely to have a loss of brain tissue in the left side of the brain. Participants who struggled with even recognizing the famous people at all were more likely to have tissue loss on both the right and left sides of the brain.

“This simple test can be used by doctors in their evaluation of patients to figure out what areas of thinking may be compromised,” Rogalski says.

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