Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
A March 7, 2017 Chicago Tribute article tells the story of Cheryl Levin-Folio and her husband, Michael, who received a diagnoses of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease five years ago at age 56. After the diagnosis, the couple decided to be proactive to preserve their quality of life, including exercising, dining out and enjoying mutual hobbies. They utilize adaptive and flexible techniques such as switching to FaceTime when Michael was no longer able to use his cell, and joining a tennis-club restaurant, where they are familiar to the staff. Cheryl carries laminated cards that read, "Thank you for understanding. My husband has Alzheimer’s,” and has written a book called, "The 24-Hour Rule: Living with Alzheimer's" to share the strategies they developed. "When I started looking to put together a routine for Michael, there was nothing available that said what to do to preserve his time," she said. "All of these strategies we have put together have kept Michael engaged — status quo — for five years."
RESEARCH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A March 6, 2017 Alzheimer’s News Today article reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a Phase 1 clinical trial of a therapy to treat Alzheimer’s disease, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The trial is funded by the William K. Warren Foundation. According to P. Jeffrey Conn, PhD (Pharmacology Professor, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Director, Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery), “This is the first instance I am aware of where an academic drug discovery group moved a molecule designed to hopefully treat a chronic brain disorder all the way from early discovery to human trials without there being, at some point along the way, a pharmaceutical partner. And that really is crossing what people refer to all of the time as the ‘Valley of Death,’ where good research discoveries have a hard time moving into the clinical testing phase due to lack of funding.”
A March 5, 2017 MedPage Today article reported on a skin-based Alzheimer’s disease test in a small, preliminary study, adding to previous evidence of p-Tau accumulation in epidermal cells. It showed that swabs of 11 patients with AD had significantly higher levels of Tau, as compared with a normal control group, which might have diagnostic potential in AD. "A potential pathway of tau pathology connecting the brain with the periphery requires further study. These results support the hypothesis that the skin reflects the changes that are occurring in the hippocampus,” said Sami Saikaly, medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando. The findings are the latest work of senior study author, Robert Norman, DO (University of Central Florida), toward developing a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive test for AD.
A March 8, 2017 PR Web press release announced the caregiving health technology and financial technology finalists for AARP’s Innovation@50+ LivePitch event, April 12-13, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The event showcases innovative startups pitching to expert judges and AARP members. It also features industry experts discussing issues and current challenges with caregiving, and saving and planning, related to the 50+ age group. AARP seeks to empower people 50+ to choose how they live their best lives. Register here.
A March 6, 2017 University of Rochester Medical Center article highlighted two NIH-funded, five-year, randomized clinical intervention trials focused on reducing the effects of caregiving on immune health. The wellbeing of caregivers is of major concern, and both studies focus on caregivers for dementia patients because of the high stress levels associated with caring for people with cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s. “In both cases, the interventions are really aimed at trying to strengthen stress resilience in caregivers. Because ultimately it’s the same idea for both studies – we want to improve emotion regulation and the ability to adapt to stress in order to minimize the effects of caregiving on immune function,” said Kathi Heffner, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Department of Psychiatry, Rochester Medical Center.
A March 8, 2017 Tulsa World opinion piece by Sen. Frank Simpson voices his concern that we are doing a disservice for our elderly veterans in the ways we care for them. After visiting Watkins-Logan Veterans Home, based on the “small home concept” (providing group homes for 10 veterans per home), he was convinced we can do better. Each home is ‘family style’ and designed to meet the needs of the individuals who live there, from limited mobility to Alzheimer’s, to other special needs. The veterans at Watkins-Logan, moved from institutional settings, report that their physical and psychological health improved, they needed fewer medications, and their aches, pains and feelings of depression diminished. Simpson believes that even though progress has been made in veterans’ centers in recent years, limited budgets and institutional settings are systemic problems that must change if we are to offer veterans independence and dignity in their care.