Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Living Alzheimer's From the Front Row

I often use the term "living Alzheimer's from the front row". This term describes caregivers and others that watch Alzheimer's develop 24/7. Once the disease strikes they get to witness the craziness of it all. On one hand, you have the person suffering from Alzheimer's; on the other hand, you have the person responsible for caring for that person. Unless you are an Alzheimer's caregiver it is almost impossible to either understand or comprehend what it is like living in the front row.

Until you sit in the front row you won't be able to comprehend what it is like living in the "front row" . In the early days of caring the caregiver deals with a disease that is not only impossible to understand; they live with a disease that turns their world upside down. Imagine a person you know all or most of your life and their behavior changes--suddenly--and for the worse. This person, your loved one, begins to act out behaviors with you that you have never seen or experienced before. You want to scream at them or worse, but you come to the realization that this only makes matters worse. You cannot reason with a person suffering from Alzheimer's. They believe what they say to be true and nothing can change it.

It is difficult to describe the range of emotions a caregiver might feel or experience in a single day. Imagine being happy and then sad, caring then angry, focused then frustrated, an almost endless stream of feelings and emotions that conflict. The caregiver lives an anxiety filled life day-after- day. The caregiver nevers knows when this craziness might come to an end. They do know this uncertain fate is heart wrenching.

Most people have difficulty dealing with change. The Alzheimer's caregiver deals with change on a daily basis. Never knowing for certain what is coming, but knowing fully it is coming. Informed caregivers try to get ahead of the curve so they can get prepared for these harsh, sometimes hard to comprehend changes. Knowing that your loved one is going to forget simple things like how to brush their teeth, how to take a shower, and even how to eat is not a pleasant thought. The actual experience and feeling of helplessness cannot be described. Knowing that the day is coming when they --won't know you-- is the most horrific feeling of them all.

It isn't pleasant living in the front row. Yet, somehow we do it. Many of us for years. Trust me when I say this, if you are not living in the front row you could never imagine what it is like.

If you know a caregiver get involved. The first thing you can do is listen to them as they vent. The next thing you can do is arrange for them to get away from it all for a period of time. Hug a caregiver, I assure you it will be an experience you won't forget.

Bob DeMarco—My Profile

Also see:

A Wonderful Moment in Time--Mom dances for the first time in years

Alzheimer's and the Thyroid

A Simple Three Minute Test Can Detect the Earliest Stage of Alzheimer's disease

High cholesterol levels in your 40s raises Alzheimer's risk

A Wonderful Moment in Time--Mom dances for the first time in years

Wonderful people.

I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom. Moments like this help keep me energized and focused.

My name is Bob and I am the sole caregiver for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

One of the biggest problems I face as a caregiver is keeping my mother socialized. If it was up to her she would sit around all day in the dark, rarely speaking. If you have experienced this you know how really disconcerting this can be.

About two years ago, I decided to take my mother out to the Banana Boat in Boynton Beach. The Banana Boat is an outdoor restaurant on the Intercoastal Waterway. The "Boat" has an outdoor restaurant and an outdoor bar where you can eat and listen to live music. Since my mother rarely speaks when we go out to dinner, I decided we would sit at the bar and eat. This would insure we had movement and people talking around us.

My mother ordered chicken wings and french fries, one of her favorites meals. My mother's eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw "a big basket of french fries". She was delighted. We had a very good time that night and I decided to do it the next Friday night. Pretty soon we were doing it most Friday nights.

After a few weeks, women started to come over and talk to us. The attraction was an older man with his elderly mother; they wanted to say how nice it was to see us. Keep in mind my mother was 90 at the time. Of course, they were saddened to hear that mom was suffering from Alzheimer's. Soon both women and men were coming over to talk.

I should point out that the Banana Boat is the kind of place that attracts many of the same people week-in-week-out. Since we go around 6:30 we catch the happy hour crowd many of whom stay until 8.

After a while, a small group of people started saving a chair for my mother as they were expecting us. The first time we missed a Friday one woman asked for our phone number and told me they were worried about "mom" when we didn't show up. So they wanted to be able to check if we hadn't told them we wouldn't be coming the next week. Now we call to let them know if we are not coming.

As time went on, our little group of friends started to get bigger and this turned out to be a "God send". Each week, one by one these wonderful people come up and start talking to my mother. She really enjoys this and her attitude perks up right away. They treat her just like everyone else and talk to her like she is one of the gang. This year a group got together and took my mother to the casino to play slot machines on here birthday. I cannot put into words how much this meant to mom and me.

My mother loved to dance. So, each and every week I asked her if she wanted to dance. Our new friends would also ask mom to dance--men and women alike. I could tell that mom wanted to dance but she always said, no. Mom is no longer confident around crowds or people she doesn't know, so while her instinct is to dance her brain is telling her no. I can tell you mom was never shy about dancing and she is a good dancer.

Last Friday night, I asked mom if she wanted to dance. She said, no. But, I could tell she really did want to dance this time. When we were getting ready to leave, and as mom stood up, I started dancing with her right on the spot. She was shaking it a little bit and had a big smile on her face. By the time we were done people had tears in their eyes and smiles as big as big could be. Wonderful people.

I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom and situations like this really help me to keep at it.

I can assure you it was really a wonderful moment in time.

Original content the Alzheimer's Diary

Five Ways to Keep Alzheimer's Away

A recent article on CNN.com, Five Ways to Keep Alzheimer's Away, mentions five ways to keep your memory sharp: antioxidants, fish oil supplements, phosphatidylserine supplements, curry, and Cross-training your brain. This article is part of a discussion about Alzheimer's and yesterday's news about how herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba doesn't stop Alzheimer's. I believe that supplemnts are a good part of any regimen to improve health. Scientific evidence supports the value of taking supplemens and indicates that supplements can help stave off a long list of diseases including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's.

However, I am starting to get the feeling that people believe there is magic in those pills; and that, they can start taking these supplements in lieu of healthy life practices and get a positive result by pills alone.

It is my belief that supplements are worthwhile and a great way to stay healthy. However, it is also necessary to take good care of you body and address medical issues if you want to stay healthy and disease free in older age.

For example, I recently wrote about how high cholesterol in your 40s increases the odds of contracting Alzheimer's--by 50 percent.

I believe most people know if you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) the odds of suffering from any number of diseases rises dramatically as you age. Less well known is the fact that if you have a big belly in middle age the chances that you could suffer from dementia are tripled.

Previously I wrote an article about Alzheimer's and the likely devastating effect it could have on baby boomers. I suggested a list of things that are proactive and have measured scientific benefits. In addition to the issues with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a big belly I suggested a few additional ideas that I believe can help.

A recently released study showed that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia and can help slow progression of Alzheimer's disease. Another recent study at Harvard found that those who regularly drank a cocoa flavanol rich beverage had an eight percent increase in brain blood flow after one week, and 10 percent increase after two weeks. Studies also show that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to experience brain volume loss.

These are the kinds of things I believe raise the odds of fighting off Alzheimer's and dementia in older age. Please keep this in mind, the longer you live the greater the chance you will suffer from dementia. Once Alzheimer's or dementia present it is to late. So the time to get started is now.

My mother suffers from Alzheimer's and is 92 years old. Prior to the age of 85 she never suffered a major illness, never had an operation, and was still functioning on her own.

Bob DeMarco—My Profile
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Five ways to keep Alzheimer's away

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Correspondent

(CNN) -- Blanche Danick may be 86 years old, but she's pretty hip. She keeps up with all the latest health news, and a while back, she called her daughter wanting to know whether she should start taking the herb ginkgo biloba. She'd heard it might stave off Alzheimer's disease.

"I told her not to bother, that it wouldn't make much of a difference," says her daughter, Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "On the basis of what I've read, I don't think it staves off dementia."

London's advice makes a lot of sense, according to a study out this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Ginkgo is a top-selling herb and has been hailed by some as a memory-booster, but the new University of Pittsburgh study found it didn't help prevent Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia in more than 3,000 elderly study subjects.

Ginkgo manufacturers say this isn't the first -- or the last -- word on the herb. "There is a significant body of scientific and clinical evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of ginkgo extract for both cognitive function and improved circulation," said Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council.

London's still skeptical. "But I do tell my mother there are other things she can do," says London, who's studied the brain and aging. "I tell her to go out and do things and see people every day and be active." Studies have shown that physical exercise, the kind that keeps the heart healthy, also keeps the brain healthy, according to the National Institutes of Health's Cognitive and Emotional Health Project.

People are like rats, London says. "If you put a rat in a cage by itself, it won't do well on cognitive tests. But if you give it toys and put other rats in its cage, they're going to be smarter rats."

In addition to playing with toys and hanging out with your fellow rats, here are five other tips for keeping your memory sharp. London says they help work on memory centers of the brain, including the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus, identified in the diagram above.

1. Antioxidants

London makes sure her mother takes vitamins A, C, and E. They're antioxidants, which prevent cell damage and are believed by some to slow down diseases of aging. "There are studies that suggest antioxidants might prevent dementia," she says.

2. Fish oil supplements

Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging, says aging brains show signs of inflammation, and fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Phosphatidylserine supplements

Phosphatidylserine is a lipid found naturally in the body. Small says he's not 100 percent convinced these supplements will help stave off dementia, but they're worth a try. "If I start having memory problems when I get older, I'll give them a trial run and see if they help," says Small, author of the new book "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind."

4. Curry

Small, who's 57, says that as he gets older, he might also try eating more foods with curry in them. "Some studies in Singapore show that those who ate curry once a week had better memory scores," he said.

5. Cross-training your brain

"Our brains can be made stronger through exercise," says Andrew Carle, assistant professor of in the department of health administration and policy at George Mason University. "In the same way physical exercise can delay many of the effects of aging on the body, there's some evidence cognitive exercise can at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's."

But Carle says it's not enough to do just one kind of brain exercise. "Doing a crossword puzzle every day is good, but it's the equivalent of doing only pushups -- your arms will get strong, but not the rest of your body."

He recommends doing other activities in addition, such as computing numbers in your head instead of using a calculator, or using one of the "brain gym" computer games designed to enhance brain function.

As for London, who's 60, she thinks her best bet at staving off dementia doesn't come in a bottle, or on a dinner plate, or in a computer game. "I'm going to keep working on my research, and surround myself with young people, and do a lot of exercise," she says. "I'm going to be a happy old lady. That in and of itself is going to do a lot of good for my brain."

Living Alzheimer's From the Front Row

Alzheimer's Reading Room: The number one site on the Internet for current information, research, caregiver tools, and insight into Alzheimer's disease.

The $4350 Medicare Donut Hole

The term Medicare Donut Hole (or Doughnut Hole) refers to the gap in prescription drug coverage between the Medicare initial coverage limit ($2700.00 for calendar year 2009) and the catastrophic coverage threshold ($4350.00). The term catastrophic coverage threshold is the most misunderstood and hard to understand term you might ever encounter. Most people believe that Medicare will cover their drug purchases once they hit $4350. This is far from the truth. Medicare catastrophic coverage actually kicks in after you, the taxpayer, pays out of pocket $4350. This means catastrophic coverage beings at $6,153.75. The key words here are: threshold and coverage.
You can go to Dunkin Donuts and get a delicious donut hole for about 25 cents.
If you eat the Medicare donut hole it is going to cost you $4350.
In this article I am going to explain: the deductible, the initial coverage limit, the Medicare donut hole, the catastrophic coverage threshold, and what you can expect to pay for prescription drugs in 2009 if you are on Medicare.
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The initial phase of Medicare coverage includes the first $2700 of drugs consumed in a calendar year. When you are within the initial coverage limit you pay for the first $295 of drugs you consume--the deductible. Then, you pay 25 percent of the next $2405.00 ($2700 less the $295 deductible) of prescription drug purchased.

Here is the math and what you will pay:

  • the $295.00 deductible

  • $601.25 (25 percent of $2405)

  • Total out of pocket expense $896.25

  • Keep in mind when calculating the $2700 initial coverage phase cost your deductible and co-pay are included in the amounts. So in the initial phase you can expect to pay $896.25 and Medicare covers the additional $1803.75.

    If the total dollar amount of drugs you consume is less than $2700 then your cost is capped at $896.25 (it can be less, this is the max for this phase). This calculation assumes the drugs you are taking are covered by Medicare. There are certain drugs that are not covered.

    Once you exceed the initial coverage limit you enter the so-called Medicare donut hole. This means you pay 100 percent of the cost of prescription drugs purchased and Medicare pays $0 (zero). This phase of coverage should be called the empty hole. Why? Well if you look at a donut and take a good hard look at the area called the hole you will notice there is nothing there. In the case of Medicare, once you enter this phase you are on your own and you pay 100 percent of the costs. You can go to Dunkin Donuts and buy donut holes they are very tasty. You can also buy supplemental prescription drug coverage to help reduce the cost of the Medicare donut hole-- not so tasty.

    Here is the math if you max out the donut hole coverage and before you get catastrophic “threshold” coverage. You pay:

    • $295 (the Medicare Deductible)

    • $601.25 (your share of the initial coverage)

    • 100 percent of the next $3,453.75 ($6,153.75 minus the $2700 initial coverage phase) or $4350.

    Catastrophic coverage as you can see begins at $6,153.75 and after you spend out of pocket--$4350. I hope this clears up the difference between catastrophic coverage threshold and catastrophic prescription drug coverage. There is good news once you exceed the Medicare catastrophic coverage threshold you will pay five percent co-pays on all drugs purchased. Of course, you will pay less if you don't have to pay for an entire donut hole at your local pharmacy.

    My mother, Dorothy, is 92 years old and suffers from Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and high cholesterol. She takes two drugs that by themselves send her into the donut hole--Obama Laying the Groundwork for U.S. Health Reform. I wrote previously about how Medicare pays full retail for the drugs it purchases on behalf of Medicare recipients. In other words, they pay the same as an individual would pay if they walked in the door of a pharmacy and purchased the drugs for themselves. Make sense to you? Oh, and by the way, Medicare is the largest purchaser of those two drugs in the world. I guess all the politicians in Washington felt that the transfer of our tax dollars to drug companies at 100 percent retail price was a good thing. Or maybe they benefited by doing so. I'll let you decide.

    I hope President-elect Barack Obama and Tom Daschle will address this issue. If they want to put money in the pockets of consumers this would be a good way to do it. I feel certain many of those in the donut hole would put this money to work in the economy immediately. At least, they might be able to afford a donut.

    If you are over 65 and on Medicare you could also consider joining a Medicare HMO. My mother is a member of Humana Gold Plus and she does pay less during the initial phase. However, unless you are well below the recognized poverty level or live in a state that helps at a low threshold of income you will find it difficult to escape the donut hole.

    I intend to write more about this soon.

    If you would like to get your voice heard on health reform go to Change.gov. You can enter your ideas into a simple form and submit it. If you have extra energy you might email your congressperson or United State's Senator and ask them to explain why Medicare pays full retail for prescription drugs. I am sure we would all like to hear the answers.

    Seniors Still Mystified By Medicare’s Drug ‘Doughnut Hole’
    Posted By Victoria E. Knight

    Almost two-thirds of enrollees in Medicare Part D don’t fully understand the concept. More alarmingly, more than one-in-four either don’t know what the coverage gap is or how it works, according to a national survey of 1,000 Medicare Part D participants done for Medco Health Solutions, the big manager of pharmacy benefits.

    In case you were wondering about the dimensions of the doughnut hole these days. The coverage gap will open up after beneficiaries and their drug plans have spent a total of $2,700 on medications in 2009. Seniors are then on the hook for the next $4,350. After that, the drug plans picks up most of the tab.

    Unfortunately, three-quarters of enrollees mistakenly believe that only their out-of-pocket costs count towards the first $2,700, when in fact they need to factor in the health plan’s contributions as well, according to the Medco study.

    “This misunderstanding gives many seniors a false sense of security that the coverage gaps is months away, when it reality, it could hit them with their next refill,” Richard Dupee, president of the Massachusetts Geriatric Society and chief of geriatrics at Tufts Medical Center, told the Health Blog. “Without knowing how the coverage gap works, it’s simply impossible to takes steps to push off or prevent it.”

    The WSJ has tips on how to become a doughnut-hole dodger as well as advice on what to look for in coverage this open enrollment season (you have until Dec. 31 to decide). Perhaps unsurprisingly given the study’s findings, Medco, which offers Medicare Part D plans, has just launched a new web site “What’s Your Gap?” with its suggestions on how seniors can save.

    Almost three years since the addition of drug coverage to Medicare, seniors remain confused about the infamous coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”

    Read More About Alzheimer's

    Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime

    Alzheimer's and the Thyroid

    Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures 2008

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    LY450139, A Phase III Clincal Trial on the Progression of Alzheimer's Disease

    Alzheimer's Reading Room: LY450139, A Phase III Clincal Trial on the Progression of Alzheimer's Disease: "LY450139 is being tested to see if it can slow the progression associated with Alzheimer's disease by inhibiting gamma-secretase, an enzyme that can create a sticky protein called amyloid beta. Slowing the rate of disease progression could preserve independent functioning and quality of life for Alzheimer's patients in the milder stages of the disease, potentially delaying the onset of the severe stages of the disease."

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Combining Alzheimer's drugs helps slow rate of decline in Alzheimer's Patients

    These findings should bring hope to those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. Baby boomers should take note.
    My mother is currently moving into the medium stage of Alzheimer's so for us this is exciting news. I intend to send this information to our personal care physician and discuss it with him immediately.
    "Finding something that could actually modify the course of the disease is the Holy Grail of Alzheimer's treatment, but we really don't know if that is happening or what the mechanism behind these effects might be," Alireza Atri explains. "What we can say now is that providers should help patients understand that the benefits of these drugs are long term and may not be apparent in the first months of treatment. Even if a patient's symptoms get worse, that doesn't mean the drug isn't working, since the decline probably would have been much greater without therapy."

    The results raise the intriguing possibility that the drugs may be protecting the patients' brains from further deterioration, the authors said.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Alzheimer's and the Thyroid

    I wish I could shout this from the mountain top: "when Alzheimer's or dementia present themselves get the thyroid checked".

    About a year ago, I read an article on hypothyroidism and posted it to this blog. The article described the symptoms of hypothyroidism and how it is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in women only. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include: forgetfulness, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and fatigue. All of these were present in my mother. As a result, I asked our personal physician to check my mother's thyroid. Sure enough she was suffering from a sluggish thyroid. He prescribed levothyroxine.

    The results of the medication for us were remarkable. Within a couple of months my mother started to smile more often. Next thing I knew, my mother started to experience an occasional hearty laugh. Something she had not done in years. If you are a caregiver, like me, you will understand how frustrating it can be when your loved one stops laughing and smiling. I believe you will understand how wonderful I felt when I heard my mother laugh for the first time in years. My mother continues to smile with greater frequency and I can tell you she went for years without a smile before the introduction of the drug. An additional benefit included a slow but gradual loss of weight(about 8 pounds so far). We were fortunate that we read the article on hypothyroidism. If you, a friend, or a loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's please get the thyroid checked closely.

    In the book The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems the authors discuss in detail physical problems that can and do effect memory. The book is worth obtaining. It is full of beneficial information and resources.

    I am not trying to mislead you here. The prescribed drug did not cure my mother's Alzheimer's. But, there is quite a bit of research which indicates that hypothyroidism can present as Alzheimer's or dementia.

    Previously on the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

    Abnormal Thyroid Levels Can Increase Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease in Women

    Overuse Of Antipsychotics Among Nursing Home Residents With Dementia

    Is it Alzheimer's or something else?

    Alzheimer's Question, Where can I get the best medical evaluation for my wife?

    Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime

    I am a baby boomer. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Five years ago, I left my job as the CEO of a small software company to take care of my mother. I am living the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s from the front row.

    It is rare to meet baby boomers that are concerned about their own uncertain fate when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. This includes most of my close friends. Fifteen thousand baby boomers are turning 60 each day.

    • Every 71 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease.

    • Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death (recently surpassing diabetes).

    One in every eight adults over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

    • One out of every two adults over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

    Ten million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime.
    Alzheimer’s disease is certain brain death. Imagine living in a world where you can recount experiences from 1936, but can’t remember your birthday party five minutes after it ended. Meet my mother. My mother never suffered a major illness. She never had an operation. Five years after her diagnosis she is in very good health. But, her brain is dying. She doesn’t know it.

    I started the Alzheimer’s Reading Room to keep track of the thousands of articles and many books I was reading. I soon realized I could help the ten million Alzheimer’s Caregivers worldwide by personalizing this information on my blog. Later on, I decided to start writing about our successes in fighting the disease, our decisions on treatments, our new life style, where to look for help, and news about the search for a cure. I stick to information I believe is useful and helpful. There is an enormous amount of new information each day; it’s difficult to identify the best and most useful information. This is my job.

    I now know there are many things baby boomers can do to lower the odds of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. I do all of these things for myself each day. There are things you can do to stave off the disease. You need to start doing them now. You cannot wait. With this in mind, I am broadening my mission on the blog to include information to help baby boomers understand and take action against Alzheimer’s

    Here are few things baby boomers should be doing right now:

    High blood pressure (hypertension) is a cause of cognitive decline. Hypertension causes build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain. This is a complication frequently associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Take action to get your blood pressure down now.

    High cholesterol levels in your 40s may raise the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease decades later. Failure to deal with this condition effectively could raise the odds of contracting Alzheimer’s disease by fifty percent. Get your cholesterol checked often and get it down.

    B12. A recent study found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to experience brain volume loss. A simple blood test is all that is needed to check the level of B12 in your system. You should start eating foods rich in B12 and consider getting B12 shots to raise the amount of B12 in your system.

    Big Belly. Having a large belly in middle age nearly triples the risk of developing dementia.

    Cocoa flavanols. A recent study at Harvard found that those who regularly drank a cocoa flavanol-rich beverage had an eight percent increase in brain blood flow after one week, and 10 percent increase after two weeks. I highly recommend incorporating this into your diet.

    Exercise. A new study just released shows that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia and can help slow progression of Alzheimer's disease.

    In the days ahead, I will be writing more about ways to combat Alzheimer’s disease. If you know someone currently caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease please tell them about the blog. You can subscribe to the blog via email or reader by taking the appropriate action on the blog.

    They are predicting that ten million baby boomers will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. By spreading the word and taking action we can lower the number. Let’s get together on this.

    Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    TauRx Therapeutics-- New treatment halts progress of Alzheimer's disease

    The results of the Phase 2 study of TauRx's new treatment strongly suggest that it is possible to halt progression in mild and moderate Alzheimer's. TauRx is continuing to refine its treatment and hopes that restoration may be possible at least at the earlier stages with improved versions of its drug. Tangles are already destroying nerve cells in parts of the brain critical for memory in people in their fifties and upwards. The ultimate goal is to develop a product that is convenient for patients that could be widely used at the very earliest stages of the disease, long before patients experience the first symptoms of Alzheimer's.
     blog it

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Special Reminder: PBS Presents The Future of Alzheimer's

    PBS will present a special evening of programming focused on Alzheimer's disease on Sunday, August 3 starting at 9 p.m.

    The programming starts with a national encore broadcast of the Emmy-Award-winning THE FORGETTING: A Portrait of Alzheimer's, followed by a new half-hour discussion, The Future of Alzheimer's, moderated by actor and Alzheimer's champion David Hyde Pierce.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Wii Fit

    This is an excellent article about the new fitness module for Wii. I am considering getting this for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's. Along with this I hope to get friends to come over and bowl with her.

    This would satisfy two important needs: exercise and social interaction. Follow the link to read the article.

    I'll let you know.
    clipped from www.nytimes.com
    Exercising with Wii Fit is like having a Bob Harper or a Denise Austin who talks back — gently cajoling you through exercises, praising, nudging, even reminding you to eat a banana once in a while. It also lets you see how you stack up against friends or family members; each user creates a cartoony avatar called a “Mii.”

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers

    Follow the link to get your free copy.
    clipped from www.alz.org

    Tackle the challenges of caregiving with this free football style "playbook" by Frank Broyles, former Athletic Director of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. The Playbook is an engaging, how-to guide written for those who care for someone with Alzheimer's. Coach Broyles cared for his late wife Barbara, who had Alzheimer's disease.

    “My wife Betty is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. The minute I received the ‘Playbook,’ I sat down and read it word for word. What a huge blessing for me to find a straight forward, 'been there’ account of what lies ahead.
    Thank you!"
    John Cater
    Richmond, Texas
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    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Etanercept (Enbrel) in Action, see Alzheimer's patient's memory come alive (Video)

    To watch the video on how this works with Alzheimer's patients click here The Institute for Neurological Research
    To read my previous detailed post on this topic click this link 'Instant' Alzheimer's Drug Claim, Enbrel (Etanercept)
    Read more about Alzheimer's at The Alzheimer's Reading Room
    One of the videos shows how the treatment affected 82-year old Marvin Miller. Miller can be seen muttering incoherently in response to questions from a nurse. He can't name objects like a pencil or a bracelet.
    Miller is then given his first etanercept injection, and according to the video, five minutes later he recognizes and embraces his wife when she comes up to him. Mrs Miller said he had not done this for years, because until that moment he did not know who she was. She appears visibly shocked by her husband's improvement.
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    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Lovastatin Shown To Slow Progression Of Alzheimer's Disease

    This is a classic example of the Alzheimer's CareGiver conundrum. I switched my mother from Lovastin to Zocor after reading a similar article pointing out the benefits of statins.

    I'll put the article up on Zocor soon.
    High cholesterol levels are considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease including stroke. Therefore, many cholesterol lowering drugs have been developed by pharmaceutical companies in recent years. One class of these drugs, statins, has been found to reduce the incidence of stroke and progression of Alzheimer's disease when prophylactically administered.

    In a recent paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Amalia Dolga and co-workers from the University of Groningen show that the statin lovastatin, in addition to lowering cholesterol, can also prevent nerve cells from dying in conditions that occur in Alzheimer's disease

    Amalia Dolga found that statins stimulate nerve cells to produce a specific receptor molecule for a protein which plays a central role in the body's immune response:
    Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
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    Diabetes in Middle Age Raises Alzheimer's Risk

    This a lengthy article. Follow the link for more information.
    Men who develop diabetes in middle age may be at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish study finds.

    "Our results have important public health implications given the increasing numbers of people developing diabetes and the need for more powerful interventions," study author Dr. Elina Ronnemaa, of Uppsala University, said in a statement.

    The study found that the men with low insulin levels at age 50 were nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than men who didn't have insulin problems. The risk of Alzheimer's increased, regardless of blood pressure, cholesterol, body-mass index and education.

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    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    Alzheimer's: Understand and control wandering

    Alzheimer's Reading Room: Alzheimer's: Understand and control wandering

    Caring for your Parents on PBS

    clipped from www.pbs.org

    As the population ages, many adult children are grappling with an unprecedented social, cultural, economic, and personal revolution as they transition into the primary caregiver role for their aging parents. Produced, written, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael Kirk, Caring for Your Parents is a moving two-hour special that draws much-needed attention to this universal reality.

    Image of father and son
    The first 90-minutes of Caring for Your Parents underscores today's struggle to keep parents at home

    Immediately after the 90-minute broadcast, medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene leads "A Conversation About Caring." This half-hour panel discussion offers concrete advice and guidance on how to start the conversation‒often the most difficult step in caregiving.

    Caring for Your Parents is a Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd. Production for WGBH Boston.
    (check local listings)
    Producer's Interview
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    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Reminiscence Therapy and Dementia

    I find that my mother enjoys talking about and looking a very old pictures. I ask her to tell me things about the person and her memories. Not only does this put her in a good mood and frame of mind, it also serves as a way to "exercise her brain". You might try this and see how it works for you.
    clipped from www.cochrane.org

    Reminiscence Therapy (RT) involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people, usually with the aid of tangible prompts such as photographs, household and other familiar items from the past, music and archive sound recordings. Reminiscence groups typically involve group meetings in which participants are encouraged to talk about past events at least once a week. Life review typically involves individual sessions, in which the person is guided chronologically through life experiences, encouraged to evaluate them, and may produce a life story book. Family care-givers are increasingly involved in reminiscence therapy.

    Reminiscence therapy is one of the most popular psychosocial interventions in dementia care, and is highly rated by staff and participants. There is some evidence to suggest it is effective in improving mood in older people without dementia. Its effects on mood, cognition and well-being in dementia are less well understood

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    I am an Alzheimer's Caregiver: New Alzheimer’s Study Underscores Importance of Sustaining Viable Medicaid System

    New Alzheimer’s Study Underscores Importance of Sustaining Viable Medicaid System

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Alzheimer's Reading Room: Alzheimer's Drug Successful Test CTS-21166

    clipped from www.omrf.org
    CoMentis, a California/Oklahoma City-based pharmaceutical company, is developing a beta-secretase inhibitor, CTS-21166, discovered by Dr. Tang and Dr. Arun Ghosh of Purdue University. Unlike the existing Alzheimer’s drugs that treat only the symptoms, CTS-21166 inhibits, or turns off, the mechanism believed to lead to disease progression. The Phase I clinical trial results showed CTS-21166 to be safe and well tolerated in humans at various dose levels. Following the administration of a single dose,
    CTS-21166 reduced the levels of plasma beta amyloid, a potential cause of progression of the disease, by as much as 60 percent.
    “CTS-21166 represents an entirely new approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting beta-secretase, an enzyme critical in the production of potentially toxic amyloid beta,” said Henry Hsu, M.D., CoMentis Chief Medical Officer. “It has the potential to become the first-in-class disease-modifying therapeutic agent.”

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    Scientists have moved one step closer to developing a new type of drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. An experimental drug based on discoveries made by Dr. Jordan Tang at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has successfully completed the first phase of testing in human subjects.

    CoMentis, a California/Oklahoma City-based pharmaceutical company, is developing a beta-secretase inhibitor, CTS-21166, discovered by Dr. Tang and Dr. Arun Ghosh of Purdue University. Unlike the existing Alzheimer’s drugs that treat only the symptoms, CTS-21166 inhibits, or turns off, the mechanism believed to lead to disease progression. The Phase I clinical trial results showed CTS-21166 to be safe and well tolerated in humans at various dose levels. Following the administration of a single dose, CTS-21166 reduced the levels of plasma beta amyloid, a potential cause of progression of the disease, by as much as 60 percent.

    “CTS-21166 represents an entirely new approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting beta-secretase, an enzyme critical in the production of potentially toxic amyloid beta,” said Henry Hsu, M.D., CoMentis Chief Medical Officer. “It has the potential to become the first-in-class disease-modifying therapeutic agent.”

    Beta secretase, the enzyme thought responsible for causing Alzheimer’s, was first identified in 2000 by Tang and his colleagues at OMRF. They then developed an inhibitor to stop the enzyme’s action in a laboratory setting. Since that time, Tang and collaborator Arun Ghosh, Ph.D., of Purdue University have worked with CoMentis scientists to design and develop new inhibitors safe for use in humans.

    “This is a significant milestone and an unquestionable success,” Tang said. “We are stepping onto uncharted paths in Alzheimer’s treatment and seeing wonderful results so far. Hopefully, this drug will make a real difference and help stop this disease one day.”

    While the clinical trials continue, Tang and his colleagues will work on the next generation of drugs to combat Alzheimer’s. “This is not a one-shot deal. We will keep working to build an arsenal to fight this deadly disease.”

    During the first phase of testing, the drug was administered by injections, Tang said. Another clinical study, using an oral version of CTS-21166 will likely begin in a few months, followed by a phase II study later this year, he said.

    “As far as Phase I testing goes, we could not have expected better results for a new CNS (central nervous system) drug,” he said. “It not only proved the drug candidate is safe, it gave us a whole lot of information on efficacy.”

    Tang said the significance of this drug is that it is designed to treat the disease itself rather than treating the symptoms, like all other available Alzheimer’s drugs.

    “It would be great if people could take one pill a day and push the onset of the disease back indefinitely,” he said. “This is another milestone toward that goal.”

    About Alzheimer’s Disease:
    Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder characterized by slow, progressive memory loss due to the gradual death of brain cells. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease affects more than 4.5 million Americans, including 62,000 Oklahomans and nearly half the U.S. population over the age of 85.

    About CoMentis:
    CoMentis, Inc. (comentis.com) has its headquarters in South San Francisco, with research operations in both South San Francisco and Oklahoma City. The company is engaged in the discovery and development of small-molecule drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cognitive disorders.

    About OMRF:
    OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.