Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
An October 12, 2017 Kaiser Health News article reported that Nora Harris, a woman with Alzheimer’s disease at the center of a spoon-feeding controversy, passed away yesterday. Her husband, Bill Harris, went to court last year to stop the practice, which violated Nora's advance directive to take no measures to prolong her life. There is an ongoing debate over advance directives and dementia, and whether patients with AD can stipulate that they want oral food and liquid stopped at a certain point. According to Thaddeus Mason Pope of the Health Law Institute at Hamline University in St. Paul, “This is probably the least discussed option. We don’t have statutes, we don’t have regulations, we don’t have a court case.”
An October 12, 2017 Alzheimer’s News Today article focused on collaboration in Alzheimer’s disease studies. Along with PhRMA, academic institutions, non-profits and government agencies work together to advance potential treatments. The two major collaborative research enterprises are the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership – Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD). ADNI works to identify biomarkers and the earliest signs of AD, and (AMP-AD) is building a database with molecular information from patients to guide future studies.
An October 11, 2017 Vox article followed a pharmacist who provides prescription drugs to many members of Congress. Based on the prescriptions filled, he claims that some apparently have Alzheimer’s, which could affect judgment, memory, and decision-making. More than half of the senators running for reelection in 2018 will be over 65, and the average age in the House is 57.
According to an October 11, 2017 TIME article and video segment, change is the number one red flag a child or caregiver should watch out for to spot early signs of dementia. Prompt diagnosis is critical and an evaluation by a doctor will include some form of cognitive assessment, and may entail blood work or other tests to rule out non-Alzheimer’s factors. Talking about dementia with a parent can be very difficult. According to Gary Small of the University of California, “When family approach them, they may be either dismissive or angry. There can also be some degree of paranoia.”