CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

Research from Cleveland Clinic has found that initial memory problems are linked with a slower rate of decline in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

“What we found out was that people with early memory symptoms alone compared to people with early language problems or visual-spatial problems, they tend to have a slightly slower disease progression in terms of their functional abilities,” explained Jagan Pillai, MD, neurologist for Cleveland Clinic and lead author on the study.

Dr. Pillai said those with language problems, spatial ability and judgment issues seemed to be affected more over a period of time – specifically in their daily functional abilities. 

He said it seems to make sense since a person with just memory difficulties could find other ways to compensate, like keeping track of what they’re doing by recording themselves or writing down notes. 

That would then allow them to remain functional. 

He also noted that memory difficulties come from another part of the brain than language problems, for example. So, how the disease progresses could be different. 

“The portion of the brain that is first impacted by the disease tends to determine the symptoms that goes along with the disease and also the kind of progression from there to other regions,” said Dr. Pillai.

Dr. Pillai said having this information available can better help physicians diagnose people and prepare them for the future. 

It can also be useful for researchers when it comes to testing different medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease.