Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A March 14, 2017 Medical Express article reported that encouraging patients with potential memory issues to seek early advice from a general practitioner empowered more of them to consult their doctor, but the doctors did not refer more to memory services or for earlier overall diagnosis of dementia. These results are according to a trial by Gill Livingston, University College London, and colleagues, publishing this week in PLOS Medicine. Early dementia diagnosis allows people to plan for the future, receive symptomatic treatment, access social and voluntary care, and delays care home entry, with few negative effects. The trial author suggests that it may be necessary to inform both sides of the doctor-patient relationship in order to increase early diagnosis: "Interventions likely to be successful in decreasing cognitive severity at diagnosis will need to target both the public and practitioners and particularly concentrate on the benefits of earlier diagnosis."

A March 13, 2017 Sacramento Bee article by Ken Pollock reveals his experience having and writing about dementia, diagnosed two years ago. He is bombarded by well-intentioned diet, exercise and lifestyle advice, many of which he tries, figuring it’s better than doing nothing. He writes frankly, “Dementia is a creepy disorder that strikes unmercifully at random moments. Some readers wrote about having good and bad days, or even weeks. I bless the fact that I only have bad moments at this point in the journey.” There is a funding disparity in Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Recent figures show the National Institutes of Health spends about $480 million on dementia research, compared with nearly $8 billion on cancer and heart disease research. This disparity could be due to the hidden, almost secretive nature of dementia, as if there were something embarrassing or shameful about having it.


A March 13, 2017 NBC News segment tells how George Drummond redesigned a hospital ward that cares for people with Alzheimer’s, into a 1960’s living room, in order to comfort his wife, Elaine, who was a patient there for six months. The idea is to transport people back to a time of happy memories at home. Even though Elaine has passed away, George continues to curate the redesign of additional themed rooms within the hospital.


A March 11, 2017 California Health Report article reported on the efforts of the California Task Force on Family Caregiving to offer comprehensive solutions and support to family caregivers in California, analyzing and addressing the complex, fragmented, confusing and escalating family “caregiving crisis.” This is the beginning of a two-year effort to understand the needs of family caregivers, but more specifically of Baby Boomers, Latinos and members of “the Greatest Generation,” who each require different and culturally appropriate support. California was the first state to recognize the need to support family caregivers and has 11 family caregiver centers, yet even fully staffed and funded, the existing system wouldn’t be enough. The task force will explore best practices from other states, with Minnesota considered the gold standard. “The way this plays out in the real world is so much more complicated and challenging than when we’re making policy at the federal and state level. We’re kind of clueless about how these activities of care play out. Because it’s really the family that is the caregiving system,” said long-time aging advocate, Anne Tumlinson.


A March 15, 2017 Medical Life Sciences article looked at analysis from a new report from Alzheimer’s Research UK, "Keeping pace: progress in dementia research capacity." According to Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, “Five years ago we challenged the UK Government to commit to long-term support for dementia research, and today we see the impact that greater investment can have… Dementia research has also benefited hugely from increasing international collaboration, and it will be crucial to ensure this trend continues…” The report highlights major improvements in the UK dementia research landscape, as funding for AD research has increased. The number of scientists working on AD has almost doubled over six years, and UK dementia research productivity has likewise nearly doubled.


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