June 27, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A June 23, 2017 Univision article [in Spanish] reported on the “devastating” impact of the Senate health care bill on the Latino community, including its impact on families touched by Alzheimer’s. The article quotes UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Chairman, George Vradenburg, as saying, “We are concerned that this Senate reform will undo the progress we have made against this destructive disease [Alzheimer's].”


A June 27, 2017 Forbes article focused on two major questions that were addressed at the Aspen Ideas Festival’s Spotlight Health conference: what kind of health care and caregiving do the oldest Americans need, and what will it take to achieve it? The answers centered around patient-centric care and the use of technology. According to Andy Slavitt, Senior Adviser for the Bipartisan Policy Center and Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under President Obama, “If we’re not focused on the oldest and sickest people, our eye is off the ball.” 

A June 26, 2017 BBC News article reported that scientists now believe the best time to administer disease modifying Alzheimer’s therapies is years before symptoms become obvious, up to 20 years prior. By the time AD is clinically diagnosed, it can be too late for drug treatment because by then damage caused to the brain is irreversible. So they are looking at risk factors such as a family history and genetics, blood tests, utilizing brain scans and cognitive testing, even measuring the way people walk with wearable technology. 

A June 22, 2017 CBS News article looked at results from the Census Bureau which points to an aging and ethnically diversifying United States. Between 2000 to 2016, the number of residents age 65+ grew from 35 million to 49.2 million, jumping to 15% of the total population. This is costly for taxpayers as net Medicare spending is expected to nearly double over the next decade, from $592 billion to $1.2 trillion.


According to a June 26, 2017 Medical Xpress article, social isolation can lead to health problems, including shortened lifespan. "A lot of elderly people live alone, and so we suspect that stresses from the combination of aging and social isolation creates a double-whammy at the cellular and molecular level. If you have an age-related disruption of the UPR response, compounded by sleep disturbances, and then you add social isolation, that may be a very unhealthy cocktail,” said Nirinjini Naidoo, PhD, Research Associate Professor of Sleep Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. UPR (unfolded protein response) is suspected as a contributor to the aging process, including Alzheimer's.


A June 22, 2017 History article spotlighted “memory rooms” at Alexa Seniors’ Residence in Dresden, Germany that recreate home decor of the 1960’s to encourage brain stimulation and reanimate memories of the past for residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and general memory loss. According to Gunter Wolfram, Alexa’s Director, “We noticed that people emerge from lethargy, are suddenly able to butter their own bread rolls, eat and drink more, go to the bathroom on their own and are friendlier and more interested in their environment.”