The University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging wants you to join the fight.

As part of a research program on Alzheimer’s disease, the Healthy Brain Aging Volunteer program seeks motivated older adults to take part in clinical research projects involving potential Alzheimer’s treatments, Alzheimer’s prevention studies, and normal aging.

Brain donations are part of some of the studies (because a brain autopsy is the only way to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related brain disorders). Information from brain tissue is helpful to researchers working to better understand Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, other studies look at blood, brain scans, and cerebral spinal fluid to help find a cure.

Biological samples from normal individuals are needed for the research, also. As surprising as it seems, we still do not know exactly how the brains of healthy persons change as they age.

Scientists need to study normal brains to find out which changes in the brain are caused by disease and which are due to aging. It is especially valuable to study brain tissue and body fluids from normal older persons who have had their memory and thinking tested as they grow older.

If you wish to join in this fight, including studies involving brain donation, it is important for your family members to know your wishes and be a part of the decision-making process. All participants receive yearly tests of thinking and memory and a medical examination by a neurologist.

In the case of brain donation, family members must notify the center of a donor’s death quickly – within two hours. The donor’s body is taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital where the brain is removed by the center’s pathologists.

The autopsy is provided at no charge to the family of study participants.

Kentucky law lets a person give consent for an autopsy while they are alive and authorizes others to do so after death if a person becomes unable to make decisions because of dementia.

Your family will receive a written report on the autopsy. The letter gives the diagnosis, summarizes other findings and includes a number to call if there are questions.

The removal of the brain does not leave any visible marks and therefore, an open casket funeral is possible.

For more information about brain aging, treatment and brain donation studies, call the UK ADC Healthy Brain Aging Volunteer program at 859-323-5550.