In a recent article published on the Wall Street Jurnal online, by Shirley Wang (April 28, 2010), we learn that after a panel discussion led by specialists at the National Institute of Health (NIH), there are not clinical or other interventions that had proven effective in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. They concluded “…There’s not enough evidence to suggest that medicines or dietary supplements prevent Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline, an independent committee of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health concluded today.
The three-day meeting of 15 experts took a critical look at the state of science surrounding the memory-robbing disease, which is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. The main conclusion: there’s not enough good research out there to show that any intervention prevents the disease. Read the panel’s draft statement here.
Some factors that appear to be related to decreased risk of Alzheimer’s include “cognitive engagement” like training people in reasoning and memory, walking and a Mediterranean diet. But there’s no consistent evidence that multivitamins, gingko biloba or other supplements can do anything to stave off the disease.
The experts didn’t find evidence that Alzheimer’s drugs like Pfizer and Esai’s Aricept and Forest’s Namenda, approved to treat memory loss and other symptoms of the disease, are also effective in slowing or preventing dementia. Read More
Avid, Bayer, General Electric Push Agents to Spot the Disease From Brain Scans.
Living Well has been doing research for the best practices to assist and support people with Alzheimer’s. Now we have good news.
In an article by Shirley Wang, in the Wall Street Journal on April 15, 2010, we learned that “…companies specializing in medical imaging are pushing to develop chemical agents to detect Alzheimer’s disease from brain scans, a process that one day may make it possible to predict who will suffer from the progressive ailment before symptoms appear.
Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc., a tiny imaging company based in Philadelphia, and multinationals like Bayer, AG and General Electric Co., are among those working on imaging compounds to help doctors spot signs of the memory-robbing disease. Such chemical compounds would be a first of their kind and would help their makers tap into the multibillion dollar Alzheimer’s diagnostic market. These diagnostic tools will be important to developing new treatments as well. Many experimental Alzheimer’s treatments appear to work better in patients with less severe forms of the disease but are too weak to have an effect on patients by the time they are diagnosed today…” Read more
The need for special training and smart technology to help track the rising number of people with dementia who wanders beyond logic patterns was raised in a recent article by Kirk Johnson in The New York Times, Johnson explains that “…For generations, the prototypical search-and-rescue case in America was Timmy in the well, with Lassie barking insistently to summon help. Lost children and adolescents — from the woods to the mall — generally outnumbered all others…But last year for the first time, another type of search crossed into first place here in Virginia, marking a profound demographic shift that public safety officials say will increasingly define the future as the nation ages: wandering, confused…” Read more
Living Well Assisted Living at Home, Inc. proposes combining smart technology with specialized services can help to keep these people safe at home. Models like the one they called High Tech-High Touch offers a solution to the challenge of caring for elders who experience any type of dementia or cognitive decline and want to stay at home instead of going to an institution.
To support this concept, USA Today has been publishing the “Blackwells’ journey into Alzheimer’s”. “…USA Today: Focus on the present helps couple handle Alzheimer’s. The reality of Alzheimer’s disease is different for everybody. Bob Blackwell, an Alzheimer’s Association early-stage advisor, and his wife, Carol, choose to focus on the present when dealing with his diagnosis. They travel together and blog about their Alzheimer experience, and Bob continues to exercise and partake in photography, his favorite hobby. The couple also traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby their elected officials at the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Action Summit. Read the USA Today article
Although we oppose enfantilizing our elders, it is always amazing finding similarities in the way the brain works. The brain uses the same tricks and channels to learn as a child as much as when being an elder with dementia. Tom and Karen Brenner train family members, professional caregivers and medical staff in the use of cutting edge interventions for persons who have dementia and Alzheimer’s. The Brenners use the Montessori Method, which was created to enhance learning experiences in children, as the foundation for their evidence based memory support program. This program uses the five senses, muscle memory and spiritual engagement to maintain connections for persons with memory loss.
Tom is presently involved in creating programs for older men with memory loss. Tom and Karen also collect stories from the older persons with whom they work. They write these stories in large print (for ease of reading) and then use them in an Elder Reading Group, a technique they have developed to encourage reminiscence and socialization for older persons. The Brenners also film elders sharing their favorite stories in Video Diaries. They often accompany these stories with music and films of still photographs from the person’s life.