DEAR ABBY: In past months, some of the letters in your column have dealt with forgetfulness and aging. I would like to inform your readers about a research study designed to address the issue of memory loss found in normal aging compared to that seen in early Alzheimer's disease.
The Memory Impairment Study is taking place at 60 to 80 sites across the United States and Canada, and holds promise for medical intervention against the development of Alzheimer's disease. The study will investigate two treatments that will, we hope, lessen the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease in people with a condition known as mild cognitive impairment.
Mild cognitive impairment refers to a type of memory loss beyond that which is expected during the course of normal aging. Symptoms typically include forgetting recent experiences on an increasingly frequent basis. Persons with mild cognitive impairment are otherwise normal, engage in the usual activities of daily living, and do NOT have a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, it appears that such individuals are at higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
For the study, we are looking for men and women between the ages of 55 and 90 who are in good general health but are forgetful for their age. They must have a partner who is familiar with them and can accompany them to their clinic visits. The study will run for three years. Clinic visits occur approximately every six months. We will be testing two treatments in comparison to a placebo (an inactive pill).
Volunteers for this study are key to helping us provide hope for the millions of individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease.
We greatly appreciate your support for research in Alzheimer's disease and hope your readers will contact us if interested. -- RONALD C. PETERSEN, M.D., DIRECTOR, ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE RESEARCH CENTER, MAYO CLINIC, ROCHESTER, MINN.
DEAR DR. PETERSEN: Thank you for a fascinating letter. I'm sure that many will be interested in the direction that the latest, cutting-edge research is taking in the search for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. As the population of our country ages, it's a problem that will affect an increasing number of individuals and families.
According to the latest figures from the Alzheimer's Association, approximately 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. Fourteen million Americans will have it by the year 2050, unless a cure or prevention is found.
Readers can obtain more information about the study by calling (888) 455-0655 or by visiting the Memory Impairment Study Web site at: www.memorystudy.org.