Today's Top Alzheimer's News
Why are doctors silent about Alzheimer's? The impact of dementia on relationships, President Obama calls for Alzheimer's funding during fundraiser, and more on the use of tech to transform aging (read more).
- A May 8, 2014 New York Times essay by Dr. Danielle Ofri explored the question of why doctors are so silent about Alzheimer's. According to Dr. Ofri, "Dementia is not something we doctors talk much about. We all have many patients with dementia — and more every year — but we never seem to chat about it the way we discuss kidney disease or cancer treatment. We may talk about the difficulties of obesity or emphysema, but never about dementia…I suspect, though, that our reticence stems from deeper issues. All the top 10 killers in America are potentially preventable, or at least modifiable — all except dementia. The medical field takes rightful pride on the progress that’s been made against heart disease, diabetes, strokes. We have tests to screen for many cancers, and treatments that prolong life. Even suicides and accidental deaths can be amenable to prevention.But there’s nothing, really, that we can do about dementia. There aren’t any screening tests that can pick up the disease before symptoms appear. And even if there were, there aren’t any treatments that make a substantial difference."
- A May 8, 2014 New York Times article by dementia caregiver Robert St. Amant underscored the devastating impact of dementia on relationships. According to Amant, "When I look at my wife I still see the lovely younger woman in our photos and in my memory. Sometimes she looks back at me and smiles. Even though she may not know who I am."
- A May 7, 2014 The Hill article reported that President Obama highlighted the need to fund Alzheimer's research during a Hollywood fundraiser. President Obama stated, "We believe in pay equity. They say 'No.' We believe in a higher minimum wage. They say 'No,’ ” Obama railed. “We believe in making sure that we're investing in our infrastructure and putting people back to work and investing in innovation and basic research that can unlock cures for things like Alzheimer's. Their budget takes us in the opposite direction. We believe in early childhood education to make sure that opportunity for all actually means something. That it's not just a slogan. They say 'No.’"
- A May 7, 2014 Fiscal Times article by Michael Hodin, executive director of the Global Coalition on Aging, highlighted a '60 Minutes' segment on living to 90 and beyond. According to Hodin, "The special took a selective slice of the research and turned it into a lengthy prime-time story. The narrative is a good one, and CBS should be applauded for giving airtime to population aging, one of the most consequential if underappreciated developments of 21st century life. As the 2010 S&P Global Aging Report put it, “No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic, health, public finances and policymaking than the irreversible rate at which the world population is aging.”"
Research, Science, and Technology
- A May 9, 2014 MIT Technology Review article reported on the potential for young blood to aid in the development of "new drug targets for treating conditions like dementia and heart disease." According to the article, "A separate recent study from scientists at Stanford University showed that young blood changes older mice’s behavior and neural circuitry. The team saw improvements in learning and memory and a strengthening of connections between neurons in the hippocampus, a structure important to memory that deteriorates with age, even more so with diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The West Coast group, unlike the Harvard group, did not identify a specific protein responsible for the effects."
- A May 8, 2014 Yahoo! News article reported on the potential of technology to "reinvent aging." According to the article, "This individual market failure has done nothing to stymie the rise of — or enthusiasm for — gerontechnology. Indeed, we’ve made quantum-order advances since Fore’s day: Life Call’s PERS can now detect your fall and call for help automatically…What’s not so easy to intuit are solutions to those problems. In fact, in a pipeline chock-full of invention, the most important breakthrough of all might be a better understanding of the social and psychological forces that shape technology adoption: How do seniors themselves think about their own decline? What do they make of the technology that’s being designed to help them? And what will it take for them to adopt the PERS of tomorrow?"
- A May 7, 2014 Slate article reported on Congress' crusade against science. According to the article, "Federal spending for science as a percentage of the government's budget has shrunk in recent decades (from above 10 percent in 1964 to less than 6 percent today).* The private sector isn’t making up the difference. Though companies invest in new science, they tend to emphasize development, rather than research…More troubling are political hurdles that threaten to limit the possibilities of science itself. There is a preoccupation in government with making science efficient, “justifiable,” immediately deriving “useful results.” Boffins complain that almost as much effort must be put toward proving that their research is “worthwhile” as designing the research itself. A survey found that scientists with federal grant money had to spend 42 percent of their time on administrative reporting."