December 12, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A December 12, 2017 STAT opinion piece by Penn Memory Center Co-Director Jason Karlawish focused on “whealthcare,” a partnership of banking and medicine, which could help detect and fight the growing burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. According to the piece, “Age-related financial challenges often coincide with the emergence of troublesome health events, particularly age-related declines in memory and thinking skills.” At the “Aging, Cognition and Financial Health: Building a Robust System for Older Americans” conference, the focus was how banking and financial services industries could provide AD “early warnings” utilizing surveillance, monitoring and intervention.

A December 11, 2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune article reported that a five-year (up to) $70 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will help accelerate clinical trials to find new Alzheimer’s treatments. Dr. Paul Aisen (USC), Dr. Ronald Petersen (Mayo Clinic) and Dr. Reisa Sperling (Brigham and Women's Hospital) will lead the efforts to design better clinical trials, manage data and recruit diverse participants. According to Aisen, “The field of AD therapeutics is poised for major advances in the coming years, and this consortium will assure the rigorous, efficient and collaborative pursuit of the best ideas for new treatments.” Read the NIH press release here.

A December 11, 2017 The Nation article looked at the reality of an aging prison population. The prison “aging crisis” means that more than 131,000 people age 55 or older are in state prisons and it is estimated that by 2030, one in three in federal or state prisons will be aged 55 or older. “The inmates bear the heaviest medical and social costs, locked in cramped quarters, sometimes with much younger inmates, and subject to psychological and physical abuse, neglect, and guards who may mistake symptoms of dementia for disobedience that calls for disciplinary measures.” Conditions could be improved for incarcerated seniors with medical “navigators” to identify symptoms of illness or mental deterioration early to ensure immediate, appropriate care or management of chronic conditions.


According to a December 11, 2017 Science Business article, the World Health Organization launched the Global Dementia Observatory, a web-based platform to monitor national policies and plans, risk reduction measures, infrastructure for providing care and treatment, surveillance systems and disease burden data. WHO has collected dementia data from 21 countries and by the end of 2018, expects that 50 countries will contribute. The number of people living with dementia globally is expected to triple to 152 million by 2050. The Observatory is supported by the governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the European Union.