How the Internet Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

(Family Features) Over the past 10 years, researchers have learned Alzheimer’s disease starts much earlier than the onset of symptoms – 10-20 years before an individual, family member or friend might notice the signs of the debilitating disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.5 million Americans, of all races and ethnicities, age 65 and older currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to grow to more than 7 million people by 2025.

The first-of-its-kind Alzheimer Prevention Trials Webstudy (APT Webstudy), funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to increase the pace of research by enlisting thousands of healthy volunteers who can quickly be enrolled in clinical trials focused on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Enrollees in the APT Webstudy can use the internet to help stop the disease while being alerted to changes in their own memory function.

“In order to change the lives of the numerous people and their loved ones who will be affected by Alzheimer’s, we need everyone to get involved with prevention efforts,” said Paul Aisen, MD, co-principal investigator of the APT Webstudy. “The bigger the army of volunteers, the faster we can work to prevent this terrible disease.”

Volunteers can access the Webstudy when and where it is convenient for them, such as on their computer or tablet, or even a public library; anywhere they can access the internet. Volunteers participate in regular online memory testing. If there is a change in memory function, eligible volunteers are alerted and may be invited to a no-cost, in-person evaluation at one of the research sites across the country.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to help future generations avoid the suffering caused by Alzheimer’s,” Aisen said. “With enough volunteers, we will be one step closer to seeing the first Alzheimer’s survivor.”

Researchers are looking for a diverse group of people ages 50 or older who have normal thinking and memory function. Volunteers must be willing to answer a few questions about their family and medical history and provide information about their lifestyles. Volunteers will take online memory tests every three months, each one about 20 minutes long.

If you are interested in participating, visit aptwebstudy.org to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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