"Right now, there is no magic bullet," Doraiswamy said. "But I would still encourage people to get regular exercise, to not smoke, to follow a healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet." That diet is rich in fish, vegetables and fruit, whole grains and olive oil -- a source of "good" unsaturated fat.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, the United States spent about $200 billion in direct treatment costs for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia in 2012. If no progress is made, that figure will top $1 trillion in 2050.
The good news is that there is now a national focus on Alzheimer's, said Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association.
Last year, the Obama administration announced the creation of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, which included funds for research, health care provider training and family caregiver support. It set a goal of finding effective treatment and prevention approaches by 2025.
"We're very hopeful," Carrillo said. But, she added, there needs to be continued "pressure" on government so that Alzheimer's is not forgotten. "This is an under-addressed crisis in the U.S.," she noted.
To help advance research, people with Alzheimer's and their families could also consider participating in clinical trials, Carrillo noted. "Many people don't even know that there are clinical trials, and that they're recruiting," she said.
More information on current Alzheimer's trials can be found at the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
Learn more about Alzheimer's disease from the Alzheimer's Association.
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