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August 2013

Infections Speed Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

... The researchers are looking into the possibility that protective inflammation can change to damaging inflammation when the immune system of a person with Alzheimer’s is challenged by an infection elsewhere in the body. In other words, the immune system goes beyond its role as protector of the body and causes damage, just as it does in an autoimmune disease. 

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New Study Brings Hope For Reversal of Some Forms of Memory Loss

A new study has concluded that a type of age-related memory loss not related to Alzheimer’s disease could be reversible. A team of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers, led by Nobel laureate Eric R. Kandel, MD, has concluded that deficiency in the hippocampus of the protein RbAp48 is likely a significant contributor to age-related memory loss. The great news is that this form of memory loss can be reversed.

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Alzheimer’s Does Not Diminish Pain Sensitivity

Many people with Alzheimer's disease have been administered less pain medication than peers with no dementia who suffer from similar painful diseases or injuries. Since people in the later stages of Alzheimer’s can’t communicate well other than by generally acting in an aggressive manner, they can’t self-report pain. Some professionals have, in the past, concluded that the neurodegeneration caused by the disease must lower the sensitivity to pain, so they administer less medication for pain relief. 

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Individual Attention Important Benefit of Alzheimer’s Eating Study

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.

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Tired of Fighting With Mom

Dear Carol:  My mom has middle stage Alzheimer’s and I find that I often treat her like a misbehaving child. That’s not my intention. I respect her as my mother. But I have to say “no” to her when she insists she can drive the car and when she wants to buy expensive things she sees on TV ads or in catalogues. We even argue about what she wears. She says I’m bossy. I seem to be doing something wrong. How do people cope with this? -  Ginny

Dear Ginny: I admire your awareness that even though you must monitor your mom’s behavior, she is still your parent. That awareness tells me that you will do your best to honor your mom’s place in your life even with the challenges presented by her dementia.

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Helping Elders Find a Purpose in Life

Ann's dad had owned his own business and had employees. He was very successful. Ann's mom used to complain that after he retired, he wanted to run the house, but it didn't seem too serious. Then, when Ann's mom got sick, her dad's energy went into caregiving. He was a wonderful caregiver all the way through.

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B12, B6 and Folic Acid Shown to Slow Alzheimer’s

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published information about a study on aging volunteers that has demonstrated how this combination of B vitamins has, in their trials, slowed atrophy of gray matter in brain areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In the words of senior study author A. David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford University in England, “It’s a big effect, much bigger than we would have dreamt of.”

Read more about the promise of B12, B6 and folic acid:

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Aggression, Agitation in Alzheimer’s Challenge Caregivers

...The National Institute on Aging suggests additional causes for the discomfort that can trigger agitation or aggression. Depression and stress lead the list, but too little rest, constipation, soiled underwear, a sudden change in routine or surroundings, too many people around, or being pushed by others to bathe or to remember things beyond their grasp can all cause this distressed behavior. Loneliness and interactions of medications are also possibilities.

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Alzheimer’s Biomarker Step Toward Early Treatment

Researcher2Researchers at the CSIC Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona have discovered a biomarker that may provide a route to treatment for Alzheimer’s a full decade before symptoms appear. The biomarker, mtDNA, was found in the study participant’s spinal fluid. Dr. Ramon Trullas was the lead author of the study which was published in Annals of Neurology.

Read more about the discovery of a new biomarker that may help find a cure for AD:

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Acceptance of Change Important in Alzheimer’s Caregiving

...The kind, loving, intelligent man whose love for me was steadfast. I wanted him back. Unfortunately, my family and I had to learn to accept the fact that Dad would never be the same. While my Dad's dementia was instant, most dementias develop over time. Yet, the end result is the same. The people who love them are forced to accept tremendous, agonizing change. That’s a hard assignment for most people, nearly impossible for others.

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