December 21, 2018

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


Alzheimer's Dailies will take a short hiatus for the holiday season and be back after the New Year. Happy holidays to all!


A December 20, 2018 Psychology Today article by journalist, author and UsA2 advocate Greg O’Brien writes about depression (the “black dog”), especially around the holiday season, and dementia, and the sometimes-intersection between the two. “The black dog also stalks those with dementia—a double whammy for us with Alzheimer’s, a family hand-me-down for me. Accelerated depression is common in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in early and mid-stages and, at times, to the point of paralyzing one’s existence, and pushing some toward the cliff, often beyond the view of others on a drive-by… Depression, dementia, and other hardships can be fought with a four-letter word: Love.”

TAKE OUR CAREGIVER-PHYSICIAN RELATIONSHIPS SURVEY NOW! The A-LIST continues researching experiences of caregivers when they visit the doctor with a loved one. Trusted connections with the physician are vital to both patient and caregiver. If you are a current or past caregiver, we want to know your opinions on this important connection. A-LIST is an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s initiative.


According to a December 20, 2018 Medical News Today article, a new paper from a series of academic institutions looked at how tau, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, attacks the brain. It was found that it accumulates preferentially around excitatory neurons, and certain genetic profiles may predispose people to these aggregations. “Other brain cells, including microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, have also been found to play important roles in the development of Alzheimer's disease. We are very interested to understand how those cells communicate with each other and affect the vulnerability of certain neurons,” said co-lead study author Hongjun (Harry) Fu.

A December 19, 2018 Science Daily article looked at the confluence of tau and amyloid-beta via a study from Massachusetts General Hospital. According to Bradley T. Hyman, MD, PhD, “One implication of our work is that approaches combining anti-A-beta and anti-tau therapies might be more effective than either alone, at least from the perspective of neural activation. Finding that tau and A-beta work in a synergistic fashion opens the doors to new research into understanding exactly how that interaction works."


A December 20, 2018 The Drum video animates a Christmas poem written by people with dementia in a peer support group in Kent, UK. “Everyone who has been involved in making this special animation either lives with dementia or has a personal connection to it. At Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve heard how Christmas can be an overwhelming experience, with many feeling stressed out, lonely and unable to join in the festivities. We hope this animated poem will help to challenge some of the misunderstandings and stigma that so many people with dementia deal with, helping people to see Christmas through their eyes,” said Jeremy Hughes of the Alzheimer’s Society.


A December 18, 2018 HowStuffWorks article examined the ‘perfect storm’ of people with dementia and guns. There is no simple mechanism that allows doctors treating people with dementia to recommend that guns be taken away. According to the article, “Doctors and other clinicians can support families in this process by including routine questions about gun ownership similar to the mental health screening tools currently part of most annual physicals. Galluzzi and Warner-Maron [of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine] came up with a proposed clinician's checklist that includes questions about gun safety and calls out "red flags" including cognitive impairment, psychiatric illness and post-traumatic stress disorder.”


A December 18, 2018 Nursing Times article looked to a new study, The Role of the Memory Service in Helping Carers to Prepare for End of Life: A Mixed Methods Study, which surveyed and interviewed clinicians in UK memory clinics about end-of-life discussions with people with a dementia diagnosis and their families. The study found that only 41% of these clinicians routinely discussed the terminal nature of dementia. “We funded this research to find out if stigma persists around talking to people with dementia about the later stages of the condition, and it’s shocking to see that – at least in the memory clinics where this study took place – these difficult but important conversations are often still not happening. Better training needs to be put in place to create a culture shift, improving attitudes,” said Sally Copley of the Alzheimer’s Society (UK).


A United Church of Christ Mental Health Network post by author and Pastor Bob Griggs wrote about difficulties people with mental or physical illnesses, those who are grieving or struggling, can feel around the holiday season. Many churches, in recognition of this, are offering Longest Night, Winter Solstice, or Blue Christmas services, welcoming all to come together. According to Griggs, “Meeting people where they are is an act of respect, understanding, and compassion. It affirms that though you are struggling with the season, you are still valuable and still part of the community. This kind of acceptance won’t take away the sorrow, but it can be a step toward healing.”