"The loss of a mind is too terrible a thing for conscious contemplation," says Barry Reisberg, MD, clinical director of the Geriatric Study and Treatment Program at New York University (NYU) Medical Center, New York City. "So denial sets in early in the course of Alzheimer's disease."
Contemplation of what another speaker called the ABCs of Dementia—Affective changes plus Behavioral disturbances plus Cognitive impairment—constituted much of the agenda at the recent conference on clinical management of senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) in Palm Springs, Calif. While laboratory investigators spoke of neurochemical changes in demented brains and the need to study them after death (please see accompanying story), clinicians considered how best to ease the life of senile persons during their inevitable decline.
Reisberg says that five years ago hardly anything was known about SDAT except the physiological changes. Today, he asserts, physicians should be able to supply patients