Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
According to a July 19, 2017 Chicago Tribune article, people with advanced Alzheimer's can relearn some basic skills, such as dressing and bathing, when they receive special training including “memory coaching,” coupled with medication. "People with more-severe Alzheimer's can still learn," said lead study researcher, Dr. Barry Reisberg from NYU Langone Medical Center. It is based on a theory called "retrogenesis,” that patients can relearn skills if their training matches the developmental age at which they acquired them in the first place.
A July 19, 2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune article highlighted three studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London this week. The IDEAS study utilizes PET scans to see if people suffering from memory loss do in fact have Alzheimer’s. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis developed a blood screening test for amyloid build-up in the brain, which would greatly reduce the cost of AD detection. And the POINTER report looks to preventive lifestyle changes, building on data from the FINGER study out of Finland.
A July 19, 2017 Medscape article looked at the high rate of misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, especially for those with psychosis, based on data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC). According to Co-Investigator Winnie Qian from St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada, “The rate of misdiagnosis was quite high, at 24% overall. And, interestingly, patients who exhibited psychosis were more likely to be misdiagnosed with other forms of dementia.”
A July 16, 2017 NPR radio segment and article spotlighted a study presented in London this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference pointing to experience (poverty, disadvantage and stressful life events) rather than ancestry as a major factor in African-Americans being twice as likely to develop dementia as white Americans. The study looked at people born in states with high infant mortality rates — an indicator of social problems like poverty and limited access to medical care. According to Rachel Whitmer from Kaiser Permanente, “We're starting to understand how early life stress and early life deprivation can increase your risk of a number of health outcomes in late life. And the latest thing is understanding how and why that might affect the brain."
A July 20, 2017 Flatland video segment and article pays tribute to caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia in Kansas. Many point to faith as a key to getting through the stresses of caregiving. “I can’t imagine how it would be to go through a disease like this and not have, not only a personal faith, but the faith community,” said Helma Hawkins, whose husband, Russell, a United Methodist minister, died from Alzheimer’s disease. Russell’s doctor urged him to preach “The Gospel of Alzheimer’s,” which he did until his death.
CLINICAL TRIALS SPOTLIGHT
A July 19, 2017 Kaiser Health News article focused on the disproportionately small number of Hispanics who participate in clinical trials. “Only less than 8 percent of enrollees are Hispanic, even though Hispanics comprise 17 percent of the population,” said Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Director. Hispanics have less access to experimental cutting-edge treatments and researchers have less data on how a drug works in that population.