Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
A July 6, 2017 Medscape.com opinion piece [registration required] by Jill Lesser highlighted the role of nurse practitioners in promoting better brain health. According to Lesser, “In the midst of the ominous dementia outlook, it's critical for NPs, who are already on the front lines and working directly with families and caregivers, to prioritize brain health as a central component of wellness exams and check-ups. Make no mistake: NPs are the lifeline of care delivery, and they can help transform how our nation takes on the emerging epidemic of dementia.” Jill Lesser is Chief Strategy Officer of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, and President of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s.
A July 6, 2017 The Economist article looked at the costs of underestimating how long someone will live. “In a multi-stage life, the idea of hitting a cliff-edge retirement at 65 and then living off an annuity is outdated,” says Alistair Byrne, a money manager from State Street Global Advisors. Most countries will need a mix of public and private provision to pay for long-term care costs. The most common reason people need long-term care is Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. Insurance should be an important aspect, though insurers will need to persuade people to enroll long before they are likely to require any care.
RESEARCH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A July 6, 2017 Science Alert article reported that for the first time, high-resolution images of the abnormal tau protein deposits suspected to be behind Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative conditions have been captured. Researchers led by the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in the UK utilized cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The images are a window into the the functioning of the deposits at a molecular level and could lead to new treatments. According to Rosa Sancho, Alzheimer's Research UK’s Head of Research, "Drugs that could clear away clumps of protein in the brain are a key goal for researchers, but to directly affect these proteins, molecules that make up a drug need to latch on and bind to their surface. Knowing the precise shape of these complex protein structures is enormously valuable in guiding the development of targeted drugs."
According to a July 6, 2017 Home Health Care News article, when caregivers take part in a counseling and support program, dementia patients are more likely to remain at home longer, which saves tens of millions of Medicaid dollars. Through enhanced caregiver support, the growing tax burden of dementia can be moderated, even without any drug treatment breakthroughs.
A July 3, 2017 Vox article focused on the economy shifting from production to caring for people. An aging population of baby boomers and better medical treatments have created a labor boom in the health care sector. In the near future, as manufacturing and other traditional blue-collar fields shrink, and health care jobs grow, many workers may be transitioning into direct care positions - home health aides, nursing assistants and direct support professionals. They are some of the lowest-paid in the country, on par with fast-food workers and earning salaries low enough to qualify for Medicaid.