The anti-cancer drug Gleevec has been shown to disable a newly discovered key protein linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. The protein, gSAP, stimulates production of toxic beta-amyloid which is linked to the development of plaques in the brain typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Gen He and Dr. Paul Greengard, both of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, have identified gamma secretase activating protein (gSAP).
Alzheimer’s organizations, as well as the National Institutes of Health, have provided us with an abundance of statistics highlighting the financial effect of Alzheimer’s disease on the family of someone with the disease. A person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be expected to live with the disease anywhere from six to 20 years. For many of those years, the person with Alzheimer’s will likely require paid outside help, and the cost of that help can be financially devastating.
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When you are stuck behind an older woman at the supermarket, do you get impatient at her slow pace? Maybe she simply has all the time in the world and no longer must rush through each day as though she needs to put out a fire. Or maybe she has arthritis or another physical illness that is slowing her down. There’s nothing wrong with being more cautious about movements and slowing a bit as we age. However, for some people, a slow gait, particularly an uneven gait, could be a sign of brain disease such as Alzheimer’s.
There’s no prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this point. The best many experts can do is to suggest that people adopt healthy habits such as reducing stress, exercising, weight control and a good diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, researchers are working hard to find an answer to the Alzheimer’s puzzle.
When a beloved elder dies, we may have varying reactions, frequently changing moment by moment. Naturally, there’s grief and the realization that we’ve seen the last of our loved one’s physical presence. Often, however, if the death follows a long illness or significant pain, we can also feel a sense of relief that their suffering is over, and we can get on with healing. It’s often the in between time – the caregiving years – that are the most difficult to label.
Dear Carol: After my mother-in-law had a stroke, she developed mild dementia. My husband and I were able to take care of her needs until recently, but because of her deteriorating health she has been admitted to a facility near our home. She is really very content. This should be a cause to celebrate, but since her admission my husband has become overwhelmed and stubborn. He neglects the paperwork that he needs to do for his mother’s care until it piles up and we get phone calls that could threaten her stay at the nursing home. I’ve repeatedly told him that I’ll help with the paperwork, but he won’t allow me to touch it.
It’s natural for caregivers to worry if their loved one is getting sufficient nourishment. People with dementia are often a challenge because they forget to eat, or they may have problems remembering how to transfer food from the plate to their mouths. Some people have trouble chewing and swallowing, especially during later stages of dementia.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is the feeling of helplessness that can overtake the lives of people diagnosed with the disease and those who love them. Alzheimer’s disease cannot be prevented or cured at this time. Lifestyle changes and some medications may help some people stave off the destruction of the disease for a time, but in the end, the disease wins.
Personality change is the hallmark of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but a small percentage of people with FTD experience an additional problem. They lose the ability to understand the meaning conveyed by words that describe emotion.
People who love someone with this variant of FTD, which is called semantic dementia have to live with increased heartache knowing that their loved one is now unable to understand emotionally expressive phrases such as "I'm sad" or "I love you."
...Then, there's simple boredom. As people age, they may suffer from chronic pain. They may struggle with reading or puzzles because of poor eyesight. They get tired of TV. These elders may not be clinically depressed, but with no schedule to keep and not much going on in their lives, they slide into the habit of napping most of the day.