Today's Top Alzheimer's News

Lessons from the HIV/AIDS movement for Alzheimer's advocacy, an author struggle with her mother's late-stage Alzheimer's, and a survey that finds that most folks are optimistic for an Alzheimer's cure in the next ten years (read more).   

 

Must reads

  • An August 1, 2013 The Hill opinion piece by Brian Hujdich, executive director of HealthHIV, urged advocates to take "a page from the HIV/AIDS movement to boost Alzheimer's advocacy." According to Hujdich, "The progress we’ve seen in HIV/AIDS demonstrates the vital role advocates play in battling epidemics. And while the HIV epidemic is far from over, this fight offers valuable lessons to those pushing for effective treatment and a cure for another debilitating disease—Alzheimer’s…Of course, in order for early detection to be maximally effective, researchers must develop treatments that target the disease in its beginning stages. Here, too, we must make the case to our elected representatives in Washington and the administration—as well as to the research community and drug companies—to increase their focus on Alzheimer’s research."
  • An August 1, 2013 Huffington Post blog by author Nancy Wurtzel provided a glimpse into the harsh reality of caring for someone with late stage Alzheimer's including questions around euthanasia. "Alzheimer's is a dark, bottomless pit. Instead of a magical cure, I pray for an end to my mother's life. I ask God to ease her into death, and do it soon…Although I've seriously pondered it, there is no legal way for me to help my mother die.Even if we lived in a state where choosing death is an option, Mummy would have to possess the mental capacity to make this crucial decision and then personally carry it out. Sadly, she is far beyond the point of making any decisions, especially the choice to end her own life," stated Wurtzel.
  • An August 1, 2013 USA Today article reported that a new survey released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) found that a majority of respondents were "optimistic that effective cures and treatments for chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease would be discovered within the next 10 years."

 Policy

  • An August 1, 2013 Wall Street Journal article reported on the introduction of the Care Planning Act of 2013 by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) - legislation that gives "seriously ill patients and their families the chance to receive thorough information about their prognosis and counseling from health-care providers, paid by the government." According to the article, "“We never had ‘the conversation’ with my mother,” said Mr. Warner in an interview.  When his mother, Marjorie, developed Alzheimer’s,  she and her husband and children had not yet discussed what kind of medical care she wanted as the disease progressed, including whether she would be willing to go into a nursing facility.  Mr. Warner, a former telecom tycoon, said: “I had financial resources other families don’t that I could provide, but I was helpless — we didn’t know what to do.”"
  • An August 1, 2013 New York Times article reported that "the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has concluded that amyloid brain scans for the purpose of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease are not ready for prime time." According to the article, "Given the tests’ cost — $3,000 or more — such a decision, if made final, would greatly limit the use of PET scans as a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease for the foreseeable future. More than 450 imaging centers across the country have begun offering the scans, which are designed to detect abnormal amyloid proteins in the brain. Generally, they are not covered by public or private insurance.C.M.S. has just finished accepting comments on its proposal and expects to make a final decision in early October."

 International 

  • An August 1, 2013 The Telegraph (UK) opinion piece by British Minister of Parliament Dr. Julian Huppert called for more public funding of scientific research. According to Huppert, "Collaboration in science is central to a flourishing, competitive knowledge-based economy, driving innovation and improved wellbeing.The Government has key roles in promoting collaboration: money, infrastructure, sensible immigration policies and a strong relationship with other countries, especially the rest of Europe…First, money. We cannot rely on the private sector to deliver sufficient funding to finance risky basic research. We have to increase public sector research and capital investment and this must be done over a sustained period. Liberal Democrat policy is to have a 15-year 3 per cent above inflation increase in a ringfenced science and research budget; we need the other parties to agree so we can actually implement that. This is essential if Britain is to remain an innovative country, and continue to attract and retain the best researchers. This extra funding will generate jobs and growth, allowing the state to recoup investments and put money into future research."

 

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