October 03, 2016

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


An October 3, 2016 NPR.org article reported on the use of doll therapy for individuals living with dementia. According to the article, “No one knows whether she believes she is holding a doll or a real baby. What the staff at Sunrise Senior Living do know is that Guzofsky, who can get agitated and aggressive, is always calm when caring for the dolls. Doll therapy is catching on at nursing homes and other senior facilities across the country. It's used to help ease anxiety among residents with dementia, who can experience personality changes, agitation and aggression. But the therapy is controversial. Supporters say the dolls can lessen distress, improve communication and reduce the need for psychotropic medication. Critics say the dolls are demeaning and infantilize seniors.”

An October 1, 2016 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article highlighted a report by the National Academy of Medicine that found “caregivers lack the recognition, information and support needed to fulfill their roles.” According to the article, “Caregivers must navigate complicated and fragmented health care and support systems, serve as surrogate decision makers and handle technical medical procedures and equipment — all with little information and training, the report found. Their health is greatly affected. Caregivers experience elevated stress hormones and higher rates of chronic disease. They don’t get enough sleep or exercise, and they don’t eat well. They suffer social isolation and economic harm because of the many hours of care devoted to their loved one.”

A September 30, 2016 Scientific American article reported on “how Lewy Body Dementia gripped Robin Williams.” According to the article, “For nearly a year, in a painful odyssey that will be familiar to many patients, Williams tried to find out what was wrong with himself — and fix it. He underwent tests and scans, tried new medications, did physical therapy, worked out with a trainer, and sought out alternative treatments like self-hypnosis and yoga. “He kept saying, ‘I just want to reboot my brain,’” his widow recounted. Nothing worked.”


An October 1, 2016 Discover Magazine article reported on a “citizen science game to combat Alzheimer’s.” According to the article, “Stall Catchers is one of the two online games being developed by HCI as part of the EyesOnALZ citizen science project. Funded by a grant from the BrightFocus Foundation, HCI has been collaborating with Cornell University, University of California-Berkeley, Princeton University, WiredDifferently, and SciStarter to develop a platform for crowdsourcing the Alzheimer’s research being done at Cornell. Stall Catchers will allow participants to look at movies of real blood vessels in mouse brains, and search for “stalls” – clogged capillaries where blood is no longer flowing. By “catching stalls,” participants build up their score, level up, and compete in the game leaderboard, as well as receive digital badges for their various achievements in the game.”

A September 30, 2016 Healthcare Finance article reported that “UnitedHealth Group Inc. and the UC system will form an accountable care organization that will be offered to large, self-funded employers statewide.” According to the article, “In one research project, OptumLabs has examined whether scanning the narrative portion of electronic medical records could indicate which patients are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease rather than waiting for physician tests down the road.”