Forget famous faces? It could be dementia

There's no test that can definitively sort the usual brain farts that come with age from the early warning signs of disease -- but there might be one quiz that can help a little.

And it's a test you can give to a loved one... or a loved one can give to you.

It's a test of faces -- specifically the super-famous faces we all recognize, like Elvis, Einstein, JFK and Martin Luther King.

Well, most of us recognize them. But people with a form of early-onset dementia can lose the ability to recognize famous faces, and often before many of the other signs of the disease kick in.

In one new study, older adults -- but not quite seniors -- with no sign of this dementia were able to name just about every one of the 20 faces in the quiz. But folks with a form of early-onset dementia known as primary progressive aphasia got less than half of them correct.

In many cases, they couldn't even describe what the person was famous for.

Brain scans revealed that those who botched mostly the names had damage on the left side of the brain. Those who couldn't even guess what the person was famous for had damage on both the left and right sides.

It's not a perfect test and it remains to be seen if it can help spot other types of dementia. And of course people of different ages would need to look at different famous faces.

But it's something to watch for. And if you notice that a loved one is having a hard time spotting famous people they should know, maybe it's time to get checked out.

And if you or a loved one is showing warning signs of any form of dementia, don't panic -- because an ordinary blend of B vitamins available in any store could help slow, stop and even reverse the disease.

Douglass Report readers got the full scoop in the September 2012 issue, including the exact doses used in research. If you're a subscriber, use the password in this month's issue to read it online.

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