This newly founded disease may be more prevalent than Alzheimer’s among the elderly population. Known as limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE), it is believed that this affliction mimics Alzheimer’s disease with the symptoms that it presents. However, it affects the brain differently, and it manifests at a slower rate than Alzheimer’s. Doctors are finding that LATE and Alzheimer’s often coincide, which leads to an even more rapid cognitive decline as when only one disease is present.

It will take years to study LATE, and will require several research participants to fully understand the disease. The full name refers to the area in the brain that is affected the most. “LATE dementia is caused by deposits of a protein called TDP-43 in the brain,” said Dr. Julie Schneider, M.D., Senior Author of the Brain Paper and Associate Director of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “More than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold,” said Dr. Peter Nelson of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, “So why would we think there is just one cause of dementia?”

Dr. Peter Nelson’s research indicates that between 20% and 50% of people over 80 will have brain changes associated with LATE. Today, the 85+ population is the fastest growing age group in our country. It is likely that LATE responds differently to drugs than Alzheimer’s Disease, which may explain why so many Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in clinical trials. These findings could alter the way doctors treat people in cases that are difficult to diagnose and save money from being spent on inappropriate medication. Recognizing LATE from Alzheimer’s will help spotlight the focus for scientists developing drugs to eliminate both diseases.

For more information on guidance with a loved one with cognitive impairment and the eldercare/disability maze, contact Slutsky Elder Law, a top-rated elder law attorney for serving Chester County, PA at (610) 940-0650.

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