Sunday, July 29, 2007

I am an Alzheimer's Caregiver: Kids bring joy to Alzheimer's Sufferers

The following article shows that our children can really play an important community service role in our society. The kinds of interactions with Alzheimer’s patients that are described not only benefit the patients they give the children important lessons in life. I found this article uplifting.

On a personal note, I can tell you my mother is reacts very positively to children. A child always brings a smile to my mothers face. If you look closely you can see she is experiencing real feelings of joy and happiness. On those days where my mother has interactions with children or young adults she usually has a better, brighter day.

Source Sioux City Journal

The generations appear to mesh seamlessly when kids from Building Futures Child Care, a public program of the Boys & Girls Home, make their weekly visit to the Alzheimer's Association's Adult Day Services room.

Without being told, the youngsters eagerly fill in the couple of empty chairs at each table. The clients who came Thursday have been chatting, listening to music or just sitting. Soon, the children's teacher, Julie Bell, and aide Cindy Levering, are passing out clear plastic suncatchers and squeezing splats of bright-colored paints into trays for each person.

The children, ages 4 to 10, have come for an hour or two every Thursday this summer. They play board games, read a library book or do a craft and then share a snack with the clients. Both generations benefit from their time together, even if not everyone remembers it well.

'I love it'

"My middle name is Mess-up," client Marian Persinger laughed as she fixed a drip on her suncatcher. She said she enjoys the children's visits. "The camaraderie. Whatever (craft) they bring, we do. We frosted cookies with them last week," she remembered.

"I know. We made caterpillars," Dylan Thompson, 5, offered. It's not clear whether he meant last week or another time. It doesn't matter.

"Oh, I love it," client Kay Erskine said. "Seeing these kids and watching them, it's really neat."

The children provide a flashback to a happy time for Linda Young, as well. She has attended the center nearly every day for the past three years, since suffering a brain injury in a fall at work.

"It's my first time. I'll watch," said one man who actually comes to the center five days a week. Matt Elgert, 6, unperturbed by the disconnect, painted his suncatcher and talked about playing Candy Land on an earlier visit.

Client Mike Biderman, a retired Navy man who comes to the center often, said he thinks the interaction is good for the children, too. "They should have some exposure to adult life as early as possible," he said.

'Bring somebody joy'

Mary Jo Sikkema, director of the Alzheimer's Association, said the children's visits are important. They keep clients busy, stimulate their brains and give them an opportunity to socialize with other people. She said it's rare that a client doesn't want to participate, or gets agitated.

Stephanie Altamimi, director of Day Services, said she think the clients especially like doing crafts with the children because they feel they are helping the kids. And, she said, the adults feel a connection to all children who visit the center, whether it's the day care children or a family member's child.

Levering said she was surprised at first at how well the children handle their visits. "They're so patient with the clients," she said.

Bell added, "I explained to them they're volunteering their time to bring somebody joy. They really got the concept."

Altamimi said other young people also visit the Day Center. She said sometimes a church or high school group will come and stay most of the day. Some have played band instruments, or drummed up a game of chair volleyball with clients. "We don't ever turn anybody away," she said.

Bell said her group plans to keep its visits going, even after summer ends. They'll come to the center on all the "early out" Mondays of the school year. Days when classes end at 1 p.m., the kids in her program will assemble at the Alzheimer's Day Services Center for crafts, snacks -- and bringing joy.

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The early signs of Dementia (Alzheimer's)

Looking back, there is little doubt in my mind that if I had had the proper education or information I would have realized my mother was suffering from dementia sooner. Most people like me tend to ignore the symptoms at first believing they are simply signs of "old age". Anyone who ends up in my shoes knows and understands that a person in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s can function with some normality--even drive a car. It is not until they deteriorate or until some "event" takes place that we wake up to reality.

The article on the next page is one of the best I have read. The basic underlying premise is that behavior changes slowly in the elderly and if they begin to suffer cognitive impairment it will be evidenced in behavioral changes. Sometimes these changes can be quite subtle but if detected could raise a “red flag”.

If my mother had been enrolled in any of these studies I feel certain she would have been diagnosed with dementia sooner. This would have allowed me to get her in an exercise program, get her proper nutrition, and insure that she was taking her medicines as prescribed. I leaned in the last three years how important these three factors are in the quality of her life.

My mother turned 91 years old in June and she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. I am her CarGiver.

I am an Alzheimer's Caregiver: The early signs of Dementia (Alzheimer's)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Statins that stave off Alzheimer's (Zocor)

"The strength of this study is that it examines the issue with a huge amount of statistical power and uses existing data to look prospectively at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s," said lead author Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at BUSM.

"The strength of reduction of incidence of dementia with simvastatin is striking,".

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by almost 50 percent. This is the first study to suggest that statins might reduce the incidence of Parkinson’s disease. These findings, will be published in the July online open access journal BioMed Central (BMC) Medicine.

Statins that stave off Alzheimer's

By Nicole Laskowski

Statins May Stave Off Alzheimer’s

What’s up:

If you’re taking a statin to reduce cholesterol, you may also be improving your chances of avoiding certain neurodegenerative diseases. New research from the School of Medicine indicates that simvastatin, a statin sold as Zocor, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by almost 50 percent.

The researchers, led by Benjamin Wolozin, a MED professor of pharmacology, screened the Decision Support System database of the United States Veterans Affairs Medical System, looking for the effects of three statins — simvastatin, lovastatin, and atorvastatin — on the expected incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. His study of more than 700,000 subjects taking simvastatin showed that the drug reduced the incidence of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by almost 50 percent. A study of people taking atorvastatin showed that the drug reduced the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by almost 10 percent. Lovastatin was not shown to reduce the incidence of either disease.

Wolozin is unsure why simvastatin reduces the incidence of these diseases, but he suspects that because the statin blocks a cholesterol-producing enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, it may also affect the production of other chemicals. He notes that simvastatin reduces inflammation, and that it increases the production of some growth factors in the brain, which may make neurons more capable of resisting chronic degenerative disease.

What it means to you:

“If you are someone who is at risk for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, you should use simvastatin because it could slow the process,” said Wolozin. “Most people currently use atorvastatin, because it is effective at reducing vascular injury related to cardiovascular disease. If your major health risk is cardiovascular disease, you might want to stay with atorvastatin, but if your major health risk is neurodegenerative disease, you might consider switching to simvastatin.”

Word to the wise:

At the moment, researchers recognize a relationship between simvastatin and the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They do not know how this relationship works. Be advised that statins may cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, rash, weakness, and muscle pain.

What’s next: Wolozin hopes to learn to determine how strong the relationship is between statins and degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He plans on studying how the drug slows the progression of symptoms by gathering data on when Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients, both on and off the drug, meet certain well-known markers of the diseases.

alzheimer's disease, BioMed Central (BMC) Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, caregiving, dementia, HMG-CoA reductase, lovastatin, simvastatin, statin, zocor

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Novartis' skin patch for Alzheimer's approved by FDA

Once-daily skin patch offers novel approach to treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, providing smooth and continuous delivery of drug over 24 hours.

Exelon Patch preferred by caregivers in a study because it helps manage patient care and gives visual reassurance that medication has been administered.

Exelon Patch minimizes gastrointestinal side effects seen with oral form of drug.

Taken directly from the Novartis Press Release

Exelon®Patch, the first and only skin patch for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, receives first worldwide approval in US

Once-daily skin patch offers novel approach to treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, providing smooth and continuous delivery of drug over 24 hours
Similar efficacy to highest doses of Exelon capsules with significant improvement in memory and ability to perform everyday activities compared to placebo
Exelon Patch preferred by caregivers in a study because it helps manage patient care and gives visual reassurance that medication has been administered
Exelon Patch minimizes gastrointestinal side effects seen with oral form of drug

Basel, July 9, 2007 - Exelon®Patch (rivastigmine transdermal system) has received its first worldwide approval in the United States as an innovative way to deliver an effective medicine for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease patients through a skin patch instead of an oral capsule.

This new therapy is the first and only transdermal treatment for this degenerative condition affecting millions of people in the US. Exelon Patch offers effective treatment based on placebo-controlled clinical trial results showing significant benefits to patients in terms of their memory and ability to perform everyday tasks as well as helping their overall functioning.

Exelon Patch maintains steady drug levels in the bloodstream, improving tolerability and allowing a higher proportion of patients to receive therapeutic doses of medication, with potential improvements in efficacy. It is applied to the back, chest or upper arm, and provides smooth and continuous delivery of medication through the skin over 24 hours.

Gastrointestinal side effects are commonly seen with this class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors. The target dose of Exelon Patch greatly reduces these side effects, with three times fewer reports of nausea and vomiting than with the capsule form of the drug.

"Exelon Patch represents a significant advance in the treatment of this debilitating disease," said George Grossberg, MD, at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. "The unique delivery system helps both the patient and the caregiver by providing a much easier way to manage their therapy. The patch provides a visual reassurance for the caregiver that the patient is receiving their medication and helps the patient stay engaged in the activities of daily living."

Exelon Patch is expected to be available in US pharmacies soon. The medication was submitted for review in the European Union in late 2006.

The patch was designed with compliance in mind, and was preferred to capsules by more than 70% of caregivers as a method of drug delivery according to clinical study data, because it helped them follow the treatment schedule, interfered less with their daily life and was easier to use overall than the oral medication.

The approval of Exelon Patch is based on results from the international IDEAL (Investigation of Transdermal Exelon in ALzheimer's disease) clinical trial, involving nearly 1,200 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Exelon Patch showed similar efficacy to the highest doses of Exelon capsules1 and the target dose (9.5 mg/24 hours) was well tolerated by patients.

"Innovation isn't just about developing new compounds, but also about meeting therapeutic needs by taking existing knowledge and applying it in new ways," said James Shannon, MD, Global Head of Development at Novartis Pharma AG. "Exelon Patch addresses an important medical need by delivering a proven drug in an entirely new form that meets the needs of patients and their caregivers."

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that alters the brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior. Approximately 18 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease. In the US, more than five million people suffer from Alzheimer's disease and almost 10 million people provide care for someone living with dementia, most of which is related to Alzheimer's disease. By 2030, the number of people in the US who are age 65 and over with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million, more than 50% more than current levels.

The FDA also approved the use of Exelon Patch in treating patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease dementia. Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that affects approximately 1.5 million people in the US. Parkinson's disease dementia is a distinct and common disorder, one characterized by impairments in executive function, memory retrieval, and attention, in patients with an established diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Two of five people with Parkinson's disease are estimated to have Parkinson's disease dementia.

The foregoing press release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by forward-looking terminology, such as "expected to be", or implied statements regarding potential future revenues from the Exelon Patch. Such statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee that Exelon Patch will reach any particular sales levels. In particular, management's expectation regarding the commercial success of Exelon Patch could be affected by among other things, uncertainties relating to product development, regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally, the ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection and competition in general, as well as factors discussed in the Form 20F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis
Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, cure disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in these areas. In 2006, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 37.0 billion and net income of USD 7.2 billion. Approximately USD 5.4 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 100,000 associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

# # #

Novartis Media Relations

Corinne Hoff
Novartis Global Media Relations
+41 61 324 9577 (direct)
+41 79 248 5717 (mobile) Christine Cascio
Novartis Pharma Communications
+1 862 778 8026 (direct)
+1 917 449 9982 (mobile)

The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent

alzheimer's disease, caregiver, Exelon Patch, family caregiver, novartis, skin patch, worldwide approval

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mental Activity Helps to Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Taken directly from the Rush Memory and Aging Project news release.

How often older adults read a newspaper, play chess, or engage in other mentally stimulating activities is related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center.

Taken directly from the Rush Memory and Aging Project news release.

Frequent Brain Stimulation in Old Age Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

(CHICAGO) – How often older adults read a newspaper, play chess, or engage in other mentally stimulating activities is related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center published June 27 in the online edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, more than 700 people in Chicago with an average age of 80 underwent yearly cognitive testing for up to five years. Participants were part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a longitudinal study of more than 1,200 older people. Of the participants, 90 developed Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also performed a brain autopsy on the 102 participants who died.

The study found that a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age. This association remained after controlling for past cognitive activity, lifetime socioeconomic status, and current social and physical activity.

Researchers say the findings may be used to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease is among the most feared consequences of old age,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “The enormous public health problems posed by the disease are expected to increase during the coming decades as the proportion of old people in the United States increases. This underscores the urgent need for strategies to prevent the disease or delay its onset.”

Wilson says the study also found frequent cognitive activity during old age such as visiting a library or attending a play, was associated with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia, and less rapid decline in cognitive function.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center is one of 29 NIA-supported Alzheimer's Disease Centers across the U.S. which conduct basic science, clinical, and social and behavioral research on dementia and AD. General information on aging and aging research can be viewed at the NIA's home website, For more information on the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, visit

The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent

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