These evaluations can also provide useful information about
disease progression and the possible impact of intervention.
Manly cites the need for more research to fully understand
how biomarkers relate to cognition and behavior, hallmarks of
Alzheimer’s. “We have technology for amyloid imaging, but we
don’t know how to use it. We need to do work to standardize
this information. What are the best protocols to use?”
Behavioral experts are being tapped as well to develop
prevention models for lowering Alzheimer’s incidence.
Behavioral intervention programs designed to help people lose
weight, exercise more, manage diabetes, cope with depression
or stop smoking would all be helpful in reducing risk factors.
Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, and Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the
University of California, San Francisco, suggest that 25 percent
improvement in these conditions in Americans would prevent
as many as 16. 5 percent of Alzheimer’s disease cases in the
United States (Lancet Neurology, 2011).
Psychologists are also at the forefront of developing
behavioral and environmental interventions that can help
family caregivers and nursing home staff to manage disruptive
behavior that is often associated with dementia. These
interventions can help to reduce the use of antipsychotic
medications, which can cause serious side effects.
Lichtenberg raises the need for psychologists to understand
the necessary balance between an Alzheimer’s patient’s need
for both autonomy and care. “Families make a huge mistake
when they rush in and take away the rights and decisions of the
person with early signs of memory loss,” he says. “This is not
ethical or helpful.” (Related: APA’s Assessment of Older Adults
with Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Psychologists,
pdf.) Instead, he proposes that guidelines be drawn that support
the older adult’s decision-making abilities until he or she truly
requires protection. Otherwise, families may encounter strong
resistance and risk being cut off from all communication with
the older adult.
APA staff will continue to track and contribute to
Alzheimer’s policy development. Meanwhile, aging experts in
psychology are calling on their colleagues to be better advocates
in preventing and managing the disease.
“The emphasis in Alzheimer’s work has been on biomarkers
and the search for a magic cure through pharmacology,” says
Adam Brickman, PhD, an assistant neuropsychology professor
at Columbia University Medical Center. Since scientists have yet
to find an effective medication, though, psychologists need to
step in, he says. “This is not just about finding a pill.” n
Eve Glicksman is a writer in the Philadelphia area.
ANNOUNCING THE 2012–2013
APA is pleased to announce a program for universities and colleges—the Psychology
Department Program (PDP). This program offers valuable information and useful
resources to enhance teaching and learning in psychology.
THE BENEFITS OF ENROLLMENT IN THE PDP INCLUDE:
• Teaching Ethically: Challenges and
• Principles for Quality Undergraduate
Education in Psychology
• Evidence-Based Teaching for Higher
• Guidelines for the Undergraduate
• Careers in Psychology—DVD and guide
• American Psychologist
• Student affiliations—Free student affiliate
memberships for three of your students
• Monitor on Psychology
• List of participating programs on the
• Psychology Teacher Network
• PDP-NEWS listserv
• The Educator
Cost of enrollment in the PDP: $300
To enroll or for more information, please visit
OCTOBER 2012 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY