Washington in July is very hot and humid but it was where the recent conference on dementia revealed the news that a reanalysis of an earlier trial using a drug called Solanezumab in Alzheimer’s dementia might after all have shown some effect on slowing down the disease process itself.

This is the kind of drug we have all been looking for over many years as the current treatments do not affect the progression of the disease.

The reanalysis involved looking at the difference between people with very early Alzheimer’s disease who had had the drug for the whole trial length and comparing them to people who had originally been on the placebo drug and only later on changed to the real thing.

It seemed that the earlier one could start on medication, the better would be the long-term outcome.  But there is a drawback. The drug seems to work best in very early dementia and the expectation is that it might be even better if we could start treatment before the symptoms of memory loss begin.

We know that the damage to the brain begins many years before forgetfulness is apparent, so many of us will already have Alzheimer’s disease but not Alzheimer’s dementia.

Having recently joined the ranks of the official “senior citizens” I am as keen as most of you to do what I can to stop myself getting dementia. Washington was also full of information and debate on the ethics of searching for people with Alzheimer’s disease, but not Alzheimer’s dementia.

Techniques and investigations that will reveal the future likelihood of dementia are many but none is fool proof enough to be a single screening test yet. So if we can’t identify people accurately enough should we be doing it at all?

The chance of a drug that will delay or stop progression from Alzheimer’s disease to dementia being closer to routine use is exciting but not quite here yet.

In the meantime we will all have to keep doing the things that stimulate our minds and bodies, exercise in all forms, physical and mental.

A Mediterranean diet also helps so you can pretend that you are somewhere hot and humid and indulge in fish, olives, tomatoes and peppers. Just like I did in Washington.