Today's Top Alzheimer's News

The need for improved caregiving services for Alzheimer's sufferers, Alzheimer's and end of life care, and the Stanford School of Medicine's efforts to understand the origins of Alzheimer's (read more). 

Must reads (caregiving opinions and more) 

  • An August 18, 2014 Argus Leader (SD) opinion piece by former Alzheimer's caregiver Diane Hudson underscored the need for improved caregiving services for Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers. According to Hudson, "Families pay more than $6,000 a month for nursing care. I do understand that it’s a very hard job and it takes a special kind of person. The employees need better wages — that is, if the nursing homes can find people to work. Families cannot continue to pay that amount each month. Congress needs to do something about this epidemic now. Because there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s, we need to find the cure now. Alzheimer’s is not only spreading rapidly across the U.S., but the world."
  • An August 17, 2014 Pittsburg-Post Gazette opinion piece by Nathan Hershey highlighted his struggles with Alzheimer's and underscored issues with end-of-life care. According to Hershey, "Due to both the progression of my Alzheimer’s and the permanent effects of a stroke, my capacity to plan and accomplish is severely inhibited. I rely on the help of my daughters to organize my economic and living situations as well as the hiring of daily helpers I need to maintain a relatively safe, active and comfortable life. I rely on these helpers so I can communicate with people I still know, by reading and sending emails and by making phone calls…I thought about end-of-life issues for many years prior to the onset of my Alzheimer’s and the occurrence of my stroke. Decades before my condition became evident, I held the belief that the choice of if and when to have one’s life end should be left to the individual as an exercise of freedom. I told my daughters about my conviction in this matter long before it became an issue for me…I don’t have the answers. I do have a certainty that I face an ultimate dilemma. I am not capable of planning or implementing my own death, but I believe I am capable of knowing that I want to die. The very fact that I need assistance in order to terminate my life is the same requirement that disqualifies me from receiving that help. I wonder for how many people this is a common experience. I wonder what can be done." Nathan Hershey is emeritus professor of health law at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • An August 17, 2014 Hernando Today (FL) opinion piece by caregiver Gary Joseph LeBlanc called for increased education around dementia for the public and healthcare professionals. According to LeBlanc, "Fighting for the cause against dementia-related diseases includes educating the public to be aware of all the disabilities involved with the disease. This also means educating physicians and medical professionals.With an early and proper diagnosis patients immediately can be prescribed the correct treatment or therapy, and they and their families can plan ahead, starting off on the right foot." For a decade Gary Joseph LeBlanc was the primary caregiver of his father, after his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • An August 16, 2014 New York Times article reported that "The Obama administration is planning to pay doctors to coordinate the care of Medicare beneficiaries, amid growing evidence that patients with chronic illnesses suffer from disjointed, fragmented care." According to the article, "Starting in January, Medicare will pay monthly fees to doctors who manage care for patients with two or more chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and depression.“Paying separately for chronic care management services is a significant policy change,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Officials said such care coordination could pay for itself by keeping patients healthier and out of hospitals."

Research, science, and technology 

  • An August 15, 2014 Stanford Medicine article profiled the school's efforts to identify the origins of Alzheimer's. According to the article, "So it was unfortunate that three separate phase-3 trials testing the antibody strategy all failed to have any therapeutic effect on cognition. “I’d like to have something better to offer my patients,” said Longo, who directs the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders. “It’s profoundly disappointing when that doesn’t happen."...In the wake of this disappointment, research to understand Alzheimer’s has shifted focus. Instead of trying to address signs and symptoms seen in the end stage of disease, researchers are looking at what goes wrong much earlier. Their insights have yielded promising new imaging techniques and new targets for therapeutic drugs, with at least a couple being tested by startup companies Stanford researchers have spun off."
  • An August 17, 2014 EurekAlert! announced that "A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Rush University Medical Center, reveals how early changes in brain DNA methylation are involved in Alzheimer's disease. DNA methylation is a biochemical alteration of the building blocks of DNA and is one of the markers that indicate whether the DNA is open and biologically active in a given region of the human genome."

 

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