Duh Or Stating the Obvious: Dementia Care Cost Is Projected to Double by 2040

83bddf41169ac99a4a21cfcaf64b6a41Call me bitter, heck, even disgustingly angry; but when I saw this story on my Facebook news feed, then later listened to a report about the study on NPR’s Morning Edition, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Well, DUH!”

Caregivers are MORE than aware of the ridiculous costs associated with this dementia care — financially, emotionally and spiritually. And while a report like this helps to educate those whose pocketbooks are not yet being impacted by dementia, our elected officials (at every level) must vote to allocate funds to support research initiatives.

Unfortunately, thanks to our not-so-brilliant Representatives in Washington, who bicker like children and most certainly don’t deserve their lucrative pay, health insurance and pension, funding for research has been cut as a result of sequestration.

George Vradenburg, Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, said it best in a statement his organization issue last month: “From polio to cancer and from heart disease to HIV/AIDS, we have seen that a commitment to targeted research into high-cost diseases is a proven deficit reduction strategy.”

We need a cure. We need a way to delay or stop the onset of dementia. If we don’t come up with an effective treatment plan, dementia costs will bankrupt families.

In the meantime, if you did not know that dementia is a very costly disease, you should read the article below……………………. and maybe start saving your pennies now.

Originally appeared in The New York Times:

By 

The most rigorous study to date of how much it costs to care for Americans with dementia found that the financial burden is at least as high as that of heart disease orcancer, and is probably higher. And both the costs and the number of people with dementia will more than double within 30 years, skyrocketing at a rate that rarely occurs with a chronic disease.

The research, led by an economist at the RAND Corporation, financed by the federal government, and published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides the most reliable basis yet for measuring the scale of the problem. Until now, the most-cited estimates of the condition’s cost and prevalence came from an advocacy group, the Alzheimer’s Association.

Although some figures from the new research are lower than the association’s projections, they are nonetheless staggering and carry new gravity because they come from an academic research effort. Behind the numbers is a sense that the country, facing the aging of the baby boom generation, is unprepared for the coming surge in the cost and cases of dementia.

“It’s going to swamp the system,” said Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, who is chairman of the advisory panel to the federal government’s recently created National Alzheimer’sPlan and was not involved in the RAND study.

If anything, Dr. Petersen said of the study’s numbers, “they’re being somewhat conservative.” Dr. Petersen, the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, is part of another team collecting data on dementia costs.

The RAND results show that nearly 15 percent of people aged 71 or older, about 3.8 million people, have dementia. By 2040, the authors said, that number will balloon to 9.1 million people.

“I don’t know of any other disease predicting such a huge increase,” said Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which financed the study. “And as we have the baby boomer group maturing, there are going to be more older people with fewer children to be informal caregivers for them, which is going to intensify the problem even more.”

The study found that direct health care expenses for dementia, including nursing home care, were $109 billion in 2010. For heart disease, those costs totaled $102 billion; for cancer, $77 billion.

The study also quantified the value of the sizable amount of informal care for dementia, usually provided by family members at home. That number ranged from $50 billion to $106 billion, depending on whether economists valued it by the income a family member was giving up or by what a family would have paid for a professional caregiver.

Michael D. Hurd, the lead author and a principal senior researcher at RAND, said the team could find no research quantifying such informal care for heart disease and cancer. But he and other experts agree that given the intensive nature and constant monitoring required to care for people with dementia, informal costs are probably much higher than those for most other diseases.

Dr. Petersen said, “Clearly, dementia is going to outstrip those dramatically.”

Without a way to prevent, cure or effectively treat these conditions yet, the bulk of the costs — 75 to 84 percent, the study found — involves helping patients in nursing homes or at home manage the most basic activities of life as they become increasingly impaired cognitively and then physically.

“The long-term care costs associated with people with dementia are particularly high because of the nature of the disease,” said Donald Moulds, acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the federal Department of Health and Human Services. “People eventually become incapable of caring for themselves, and then in the vast majority of cases, their loved ones become incapable of caring for them.”

Each case of dementia costs $41,000 to $56,000 a year, the study said. Researchers project that the total costs of dementia care will more than double by 2040, to a range of $379 billion to $511 billion, from $159 billion to $215 billion in 2010. Because the population will also increase, Dr. Hurd said, the burden of cost per capita will not grow quite as fast, but will still be nearly 80 percent more in 2040.

The study used information collected over almost a decade on nearly 11,000 people from a large database called the Health and Retirement Study, considered a gold standard among researchers on aging issues. All of the people followed were given detailed cognitive tests, while a subset of them were more intensely evaluated for dementia and their results used as benchmarks to rate cognitive decline for the others, Dr. Hurd said.

Dr. Hurd noted that in addition to the estimates of people with actual dementia, earlier analyses of the same data estimated that 22 percent of people aged 71 and older — about 5.4 million people — have mild cognitive impairment that does not reach the threshold for dementia. In the study, about 12 percent of those people developed dementia each year, meaning that they experienced problems with memory, concentration and daily functioning that were severe enough to meet the medical definition.

The number of dementia cases calculated in the RAND study is smaller than that from the Alzheimer’s Association, which used a different database and tended to count people in earlier stages of memory loss. The association estimates that five million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, the most common dementia.

The RAND cost estimates for current dementia care are similar to the Alzheimer’s Association’s, but the association’s future cost projections are significantly higher: $1.2 trillion in 2050.

Robert Egge, the association’s vice president for public policy, said his group’s cost projections are based on the assumption that “more and more people will be in severe stages of dementia” in the future because they will be older. He said his group welcomed the RAND study, especially its comparison of dementia to other serious illnesses. It shows that groups using different methodologies reached the same conclusion about the high costs of dementia care, he said.

Dr. Petersen, whose team at the Mayo Clinic will be analyzing costs using a third distinct data set, said he suspected that “the reality is somewhere in the middle” of the RAND numbers and the Alzheimer’s Association’s projections.

When it comes to dementia, Dr. Hurd said, his team’s study could not capture the full toll of the disease. “One thing we haven’t talked about, and it’s not in the paper, is the tremendous emotional cost,” he said. “Economists are coldhearted, but they’re not that coldhearted.”

How You Can Help Stop Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Registry Aims to Wipe Out Disease

Originally from AARP Blog and posted by 

What if you could play a part in preventing Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe you can. The Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) has established an online registry for those at risk of developing a disease affecting more than 5.4 million Americans.

Many signing on are adult sons and daughters involved in the caregiving of a parent with Alzheimer’s. The ultra user-friendly Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry is a national initiative that connects would-be sufferers with researchers. Participants learn the latest developments in the field and have the opportunity to participate in prevention trials. There’s also an online community.

The goal is to get 100,000 people in the registry by next July. Enrollees include Nancy Hetrick, 45, and her three sisters. Hetrick’s father developed early on-set Alzheimer’s in his 50’s. His father (Hetrick’s grandfather) was one of 14 children; all developed the disease.

Hetrick’s mother and her mother’s two siblings also have Alzheimer’s. The younger women plan to participate in any prevention studies for which they’re eligible.

The registry is part of a worldwide effort to tackle a disease that may impact 7.7 million nationwide by 2030.

Research released this month suggests there may be changes in the brain more than two decades before the first signs of Alzheimer’s surface. A study underway between the National Institutes of Health, BAI, the University of Antioquia in Colombia and Genentech is focused on cognitively healthy participants expected to get Alzheimer’s because of family history.

The group is studying 300 Colombians from an extended family who share a rare genetic mutation that usually brings on Alzheimer’s around age 45 and also will involve participants from the United States.

Two Alzheimer’s factoids:

  1. Recent research conducted by Edge Research of 1,024 adults ages 18-75 shows nearly half of American adults have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s
  2. 7 out of 10 worry they or someone they love will have memory loss or Alzheimer’s

Would you consider joining a registry for Alzheimer’s or another disease with a genetic component? What is your biggest worry about getting Alzheimer’s?

Follow Sally Abrahms at www.sallyabrahms.com and on Twitter. Take a look at her November AARP Bulletin story on the emotional side of caregiving.

The Flip Side of Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease

Interesting read about the latest news to emerge regarding the possible detection of Alzheimer’s…….. At first I was stoked, now I’m concerned about misdiagnosis and the pain one has to endure just to learn if they have one of the most horrific diseases possible—and with no cure at their disposal or medications that actually do anything to slow the progression (sorry, my opinion, but meds like Aricept and Namenda caused my mom to be very, very sick and obviously did nothing to slow the inevitable). Bottom line—if you’re dealing with someone who is already exhibiting “symptoms” of the disease, getting them to submit to a painful spinal tap is not going to be easy…… I remember taking my mom for an MRI, a non-invasive procedure, and she couldn’t stop crying…………. frankly, I have no desire to put the woman through anymore pain just to learn that she has an incurable disease……………………………….. yeah, thanks doctors, but DUH!

Of course, you decide….. article below:

Alzheimer’s Isn’t Up to the Tests

By SANJAY W. PIMPLIKAR for The New York Times

A PANEL of medical experts from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association last week proposed changes in the way doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s disease — including the use of so-called biomarkers, tests like PET brain scans and analyses of spinal fluids to promote early detection of the disease. Although these recommendations are well intentioned, evidence suggests that it would be a mistake to adopt them at this time. To understand why, it’s important to recognize what these tests mean, in what context the information will be used and what experience has shown us.

First, about the diagnostic tests: A PET scan detects clumps of a deformed protein called amyloid beta, commonly known as plaques. The presence of these plaques has been a gold standard of Alzheimer’s pathology since 1906, when Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified them in a patient.

However, we now know that roughly one-third of all elderly adults have such plaques in their brains yet function normally. And eleven clinical trials, recently made public by a group of drug companies, that were aimed at reducing these plaques in Alzheimer’s patients all failed to show cognitive improvement, even when the brains were cleared of plaques.

Thus, the presence of plaques cannot predict with any accuracy or specificity that an individual is going to acquire the disease — and researchers are increasingly looking beyond the amyloid hypothesis for an adequate explanation for Alzheimer’s.

Another test being recommended by the panel is spinal fluid analysis — which measures the relative levels of two proteins, tau and amyloid beta. This method does seem quite promising, but its predictive potential remains uncertain.

There are also practical issues to be considered, not least of all the high cost of these procedures. What’s more, the spinal tap procedure is not easy to perform and is painful to undergo, and it is a long way from becoming a routine diagnostic tool. Dr. Janis Petzel, a geriatric psychiatrist in Maine, has noted how unfeasible this test is in “nonacademic, rural or non-Western settings”: “I pray that cerebrospinal fluid findings will never be part of diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease,” she wrote.

The diagnostic tests themselves can carry a risk of side effects. General imaging scans can expose patients to radiation, for instance; an invasive spinal tap could result in infection or damage to tissue. But there is also the psychological risk of false positives and misdiagnoses that greatly distress patients, at least until further tests show they do not have the disease.

This danger of overdiagnosis is very real, as the history of treatment for prostate cancer shows. A study last year about the prostate-specific antigen test found that in the two decades after the test was introduced, prostate cancer was detected in more than 1 million additional men, many of whom were likely overtreated.

Last, the most dreadful thing about Alzheimer’s disease, next to the slow deterioration of cognition, is that we do not yet have a cure and none seems to be on the horizon. So, even if the new recommendations rendered the diagnosis earlier and unassailable, there is no therapeutic avenue to use this information to effectively treat the patient. Many individuals would simply prefer to be spared the emotional trauma of a diagnosis if no treatment exists.

Taken together, these reasons suggest that the panel’s recommendations are likely to increase the emotional burden on individuals and the financial burden on society without providing proportional benefits. The doctor’s most basic tenet is that of primum non nocere — first, do no harm. Until we have a more definite idea about what causes Alzheimer’s, early-detection tests may do patients more harm than good.

Sanjay W. Pimplikar is an associate professor in the department of neurosciences at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.

>>Flickr pic by Yohan

On the Road to Developing Alzheimer’s…

Rules Seek to Expand Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

By Gina Kolata of the New York Times

For the first time in 25 years, medical experts are proposing a major change in the criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, part of a new movement to diagnose and, eventually, treat the disease earlier.

The new diagnostic guidelines, presented Tuesday at an international Alzheimer’s meeting in Hawaii, would mean that new technology like brain scans would be used to detect the disease even before there are evident memory problems or other symptoms.

If the guidelines are adopted in the fall, as expected, some experts predict a two- to threefold increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Many more people would be told they probably are on their way to getting it. The Alzheimer’s Association says 5.3 million Americans now have the disease.

The changes could also help drug companies that are, for the first time, developing new drugs to try to attack the disease earlier. So far, there are no drugs that alter the course of the disease.

Development of the guidelines, by panels of experts convened by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association, began a year ago because, with a new understanding of the disease and new ways of detection, it was becoming clear that the old method of diagnosing Alzheimer’s was sorely outdated.

The current formal criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s require steadily progressing dementiamemory loss and an inability to carry out day-to-day activities, like dressing or bathing — along with a pathologist’s report of plaque and another abnormality, known as tangles, in the brain after death.

But researchers are now convinced that the disease is present a decade or more before dementia.

“Our thinking has changed dramatically,” said Dr. Paul Aisen, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of one of the groups formulating the new guidelines. “We now view dementia as a late stage in the process.”

The new guidelines include criteria for three stages of the disease: preclinical disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease and, lastly, Alzheimer’s dementia. The guidelines should make diagnosing the final stage of the disease in people who have dementia more definitive. But, the guidelines also say that the earlier a diagnosis is made the less certain it is. And so the new effort to diagnose the disease earlier could, at least initially, lead to more mistaken diagnoses.

Under the new guidelines, for the first time, diagnoses will aim to identify the disease as it is developing by using results from so-called biomarkers — tests like brain scans, M.R.I. scans and spinal taps that reveal telltale brain changes.

The biomarkers were developed and tested only recently and none have been formally approved for Alzheimer’s diagnosis. One of the newest, a PET scan, shows plaque in the brain — a unique sign of Alzheimer’s brain pathology. The others provide strong indications that Alzheimer’s is present, even when patients do not yet have dementia or even much memory loss.

Dr. Aisen says he foresees a day when people in their 50s routinely have biomarker tests for Alzheimer’s and, if the tests indicate the disease is brewing, take drugs to halt it. That is a ways off but, he said, but “it’s where we are heading.”

“This is a major advance,” said Dr. John Morris, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Washington University in St. Louis who helped formulate the guidelines. “We used to say we did not know for certain it was Alzheimer’s until the brain is examined on autopsy.”

Dr. Ronald Petersen, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association’s medical and scientific advisory council, said adding biomarkers to a diagnosis would be a big improvement.

Today, he says, when a patient comes with memory problems, doctors might say that the person has a chance of developing Alzheimer’s in the next decade, a chance of not getting much worse for several years, and a chance of actually getting better.

Tests like brain scans, Dr. Petersen said, “will allow us to be much more definitive.” If the tests show changes characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, a doctor can say, “I think you are on the Alzheimer’s road.”

That can be a difficult conversation, but it can allow patients and their families to plan. “At least it’s a conversation the physician can have with the patient,” Dr. Petersen said.

Alzheimer’s experts welcomed the new criteria.

“Over all, I think this is a giant step in the right direction,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a psychiatry professor and Alzheimer’s disease researcher at Duke University who was not involved with making the guidelines. “It moves us closer to the cause of the disease rather than just looking at symptoms.”

But, he added, it also is a huge change.

“This has implications for everybody alive, anybody who is getting older,” Dr. Doraiswamy said. Among other things, he said, it will encourage a lot more testing. And, Dr. Doraiswamy said, “diagnosis rates, like testing rates, only go in one direction — up.”

Doctors will have to learn new terms — preclinical Alzheimer’s; prodromal, or early stage, Alzheimer’s. Patients going to see a doctor with memory problems might be offered biomarker tests, which can be expensive.

The ripple extends beyond doctors and patients, Dr. Doraiswamy said. The new diagnostic criteria also have consequences for lawyers, insurance companies and workers’ compensation programs.

And, he said, people have to be prepared for unintended consequences, which always occur when the diagnosis of a disease is changed. For now, he said: “We ought to be cautious that we don’t stimulate all this testing before we can give people something to manage their disease. There is no point in giving them just a label.”

Detecting Plaques BEFORE Autopsy…

My demented mom brain

Exciting read in today’s New York Times…………………… Below are just some interesting snippets about misdiagnosis………..the human brain……complete mystery………………even to the best minds in medicine…………. Check out the entire NYT article by clicking on this incredibly long link.

Thank you Dr. Daniel Skovronsky!!

What I found especially striking was the percentage of people who are MISDIAGNOSED by doctors. Dementia is in no way an understandable science, but for me, this piece offers comfort because I don’t think my mom has Alzheimer’s disease—even though she was “diagnosed” with it in 2006. I think she suffers from Vascular Dementia………….. I guess, at the end of the day, I would like to know for sure what is causing her decline. Just knowing and knowing what’s to come would offer me some peace………….

Even at the best medical centers, doctors often are wrong. Twenty percent of people with dementia—a loss of memory and intellectual functions—who received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, did not have it. There was no plaque when their brains were biopsied. Half with milder memory loss, thought to be on their way to Alzheimer’s, do not get the disease. And with such a high rate of misdiagnosis, some who are mistakenly told that they have Alzheimer’s are not treated for conditions, like depression or low levels of thyroid hormone or drug side effects and interactions, that are causing their memory problems………………………………………….

A man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and cancer had a scan showing no plaque. His autopsy did not show it, either. The diagnosis was wrong. Another man with Parkinson’s disease and dementia had been diagnosed as having dementia solely due to Parkinson’s. His scan showed amyloid. So did the autopsy. He had Alzheimer’s. A woman with mild memory loss had a scan showing no amyloid. Her autopsy also found none. Three others had clinical diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, confirmed by scans and autopsies.


Demented Days Off… or I Need a Time Out

You know, in addition to personal days, we should be given demented days off. Sometimes you need an extra day just to be alone, recharge and not think about it. I’ve been doing this for a while now, you know, being the adult child of a demented parent, so I think I just go through the motions and deal. After all………………………………….

No point in complaining anymore.

Fait accompli.

It is what it is.

But I am finding that perhaps the stress of it is coming out in other ways…….. Somedays, I find that I’m not as patient as I would like to be—outside of mom…….

And here is my incredibly sound logic: If you’re not demented, you really should have your shit together and avoid behaving like a totally incompetent human being.

Be you. Be fearless. Be bold. Be honest. Be true. Be you. Just be.

Or something.

FACT. I place non-demented on a higher pedestal when it comes to normal human behaviors, actions, interactions, etc….. and their fall from grace is brutal. Like dropping a vase from very tall building.

There’s no coming back from that.

Forget the glue. You’re in the garbage.

I think I need a time out.

A Scary Piece about Alz

This is not an easy piece to read, but I think we need to arm ourselves with information. Unfortunately, this story will hit home for many of you. I think for all of us, our greatest fear is succumbing to our parent’s disease. I know for myself, and this is not exactly what one should say openly, but I would consider taking my own life IF I am diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Not exactly kitchen table talk, but again, it is the pure, simple truth and that is my goal with My Demented Mom.

Let’s face it, Alzheimer’s/dementia is a disgusting disease and there’s simply no way of getting around that or being kind or PC when talking about it.

Middle age memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s offspring

Children of parents with Alzheimer’s disease can develop memory problems in their 50s or even younger — much earlier than previously thought — according to a large study that Boston researchers released today.

The adults, who also carried a gene strongly linked to Alzheimer’s, performed significantly worse in memory tests, on average, than other middle-agers who had the same gene but did not a have a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, according to the study by the Boston University School of Medicine. The difference in memory between the two groups was equivalent to approximately 15 years of brain aging, according to the study.

“How big an effect we saw was surprising,” said Dr. Sudha Seshadri, a BU associate professor of neurology and senior author of the study. “It was like you were comparing two groups, 55 year olds to 70 year olds.”

Researchers not involved with the study say the findings have broad implications because they are the first to demonstrate changes in cognitive abilities years before the degenerative brain disease is typically diagnosed. By the time the most common form of Alzheimer’s is confirmed, usually around age 75, it has irreparably damaged large sections of the brain’s memory center.

The BU findings do not suggest that everyone with the gene, known as APOE -e4, will develop Alzehimer’s, said Seshadri. People with APOE-e4 have an increased risk — but not a certainty — of developing Alzheimer’s. The gene is believed to play a role in about 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases. Other genes are also suspected triggers for the disease.

The study did not address whether the subjects showing memory impairment were necessarily destined to develop Alzheimers.

Continue reading “A Scary Piece about Alz”

Drink Your Morning Joe

61333019_eb7690f29aA new study shows that drinking your morning cup of joe—rather three-to-five cups—in your midlife (like in your 50’s, but I’m starting now in my early 30’s) may prevent or delay the onset of dementia/AD.

Researchers in Finland and Sweden examined the records of 1,409 people whose coffee drinking habits had been recorded when they were at midlife.

Those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day in midlife were much less likely to have developed dementia or Alzheimer’s in follow-up checks two decades or more later, the researchers say in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Given the large amount of coffee consumption globally, the results might have important implications for the prevention of or delaying the onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease,” Miia Kivipelto, a researcher from the University of Kuopio, Finland, and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, says in a news release. “The finding needs to be confirmed by other studies, but it opens the possibility that dietary interventions could modify the risk of dementia/AD. [And it] might help in the development of new therapies for these diseases.”

Participants were divided into three groups: low, moderate, and high coffee drinkers. Turns out, those who fell in the moderate range had a 65%-70% decreased risk of developing dementia and a 62%-64% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Screw green tea. I am going to enjoy another cup of java.

Click here to read the entire piece from WebMD.

Study Alert: Recruiting from Alz Prone Families…

FRIDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News)—The adult children of people with the rarer, inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease are being sought for a new study to better understand the biology of the brain disorder.

Three hundred adults with a biological parent diagnosed with a known genetic mutation causing the rare, early-onset form of Alzheimer’s are needed for the six-year, $16 million study being funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging. The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease Network (DIAN) study aims to identify the sequence of brain changes that occur even before symptoms begin to appear. By understanding this process, researchers hope to also gain insight into the more common late-onset form of Alzheimer’s.

People interested in participating in the DIAN study should visit www.dian-info.org. Study participants must be aged 18 or older.

Click here to read more about this study.

Diesel Power…

I feel like I’ve read this before, but the more info we have about this disease the better, right? According to a new study that came out this month in the Archives of Neurology, “People with a greater ‘cognitive reserve’ suffer less damage from the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a leading marker of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study’s author, Catherine M. Roe, a research instructor in neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, said that “the way that some people process information, the brain networks they use, allows them to cope better.”

Translation: the more education you have, the less likely you are to experience symptoms of dementia, IF (big IF) you already have a significant amount of plaque in your brain. Education, however, did not affect those individuals (lucky bastards) with little or no plaque.

So what can you do to better your odds besides playing Soduku? The pros aren’t completely sure:

It’s hard to say whether people can do anything to increase their cognitive reserve, said Yaakov Stern, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease at Columbia University and an originator of the cognitive reserve hypothesis.

Whether people can consciously increase their cognitive reserve “is the big question,” Stern said. “I am more and more convinced from studies like this that there are aspects of life experience that allow people to cope with Alzheimer’s pathology better.”

Totally not helpful, but Stern did say to keep active both mentally and physically. And take if from me, I’ve found one of the best ways to cope with my demented mom is to run. Often. Daily if possible.

Speaking of… anyone up for a 5K?

As for the mental part, I’ve memorized the names of all of the Jolie-Pitt children—in birth order. Bam.

For more, click to read US News and World Report’s entire article.

The Tragic Toll…

Caregivers of Spouses with Dementia Enjoy Life Less.

ScienceDaily: Spouses of husbands and wives with dementia pay an emotional toll as they care for their ailing spouse. This has prompted a call for new interventions and strategies

Caregivers Of Spouses With Dementia Enjoy Life Less

to assist caregivers in coping with the demands of this difficult time, according to a study from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

I rarely write about my dad. I think for him, the weight of caring for my mom and watching her deteriorate takes a toll on a daily basis. It’s easy to judge other people for their inability to cope the way you’d like them to. Thing is, you can’t. Unless you’ve watched your partner go from wife to child, it’s impossible to say how you’d feel, let alone react. My dad and I struggle to stay emotionally afloat. I love my dad so much and it’s devastating as his child to see him have to go through this when my folks should be enjoying their golden years.

Although My Demented Mom is aimed at young adult children of demented parents, I think you have to remember that in many cases, it’s the spouse who also pays dearly. I know for me, it’s tough to support your other healthy parent when you’re in your own dark pit. So, here’s where it’s up to friends and other family to step in and lend a shoulder to cry on.

Dementia does NOT affect just one individual, it affects everyone around us. Just ask my friends.

Promising New Drug or False Hope?

Real quick: A new Alzheimer’s drug may be on the horizon… and it could be much more effective than what’s currently on the market:

Take a Scottish scientist and a Singapore investor who met because their sons were schoolmates. Add in the accidental discovery that a 100-year-old malaria drug can repair damaged brains. The result is one of the few bright spots amid a slew of notable failures in Alzheimer’s drug development.

TauRx Therapeutics, a private company based in Singapore, just reported that its drug Rember reduced mental decline by 81% over 12 months in a small phase II trial. The results have yet to be published and need to be confirmed by a larger trial. But so far, Rember has outperformed high-profile Alzheimer’s drugs made by far larger companies. And it works by going after a completely different target.

Virtually every major pharmaceutical and biotech company is trying to develop a drug that can reverse or delay Alzheimer’s, the biggest unmet medical need out there. Pfizer’s Aricept and three other drugs now in use can only alleviate symptoms for a few months. Given that 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s, and 106 million could be afflicted by 2050, any treatment that alters the course of the disease would quickly become a multi-billion-dollar drug.

You can read the entire article here.

Dementia & Staying Fit

Well, it seems my mom was right all along. The woman loves to exercise. She loves going for a good walk, dancing or taking an aerobics class at her adult day care center.

Looks like there are some benefits besides the usual keeping her blood pressure in check. From Reuters:


Regular exercise good for dementia patients: study

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Regular daily exercise benefits elderly women with dementia and these benefits appear to accrue over time, researchers from the Republic of Korea report.

Dr. Yi-Sub Kwak, assistant professor of sports medicine at Dong-Eui University in Busan, and colleagues compared daily functioning as well as mental and physical abilities of 30 women with senile dementia before and after half participated in a regular exercise program.

Their findings, reported in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, suggest “regular exercise improves the mental and physical health in senile dementia,” Kwak told Reuters Health.

You can read the rest of the story here.