Death Feed

Medications Should be Carefully Controlled as Alzheimer’s Advances

Medical_drugs_tablets_222894While Alzheimer’s specific drugs may help slow symptoms for some people, they also may increase the risk of hip fractures, fainting, urinary problems and other health issues. Most researchers now think that a time comes when many medications for the elderly are no longer beneficial and may be harmful. According to an article in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester looked at 5,406 nursing home residents who had late-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia with more than half of them being older than 85. The scientists found that 2,911 of the patients – nearly 54 percent - were taking at least one medication of questionable benefit. 

Continue reading on HealthCentral about when it's time to start pulling back on Alzheimer's medications:

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

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The Many Faces of Dementia: Knowing the Symptoms

FacialExpressionsDementia is not a single disease. It’s a non-specific syndrome that affects cognitive areas of the brain that control memory, language, attention and problem solving. To be considered dementia, the problems must be severe enough to affect daily living. Because Alzheimer’s is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of dementia cases, it’s the most broadly recognized form. However, there are up to 50 different known versions of dementia. Dementia symptoms can include changes in personality, mood and behavior. While some cases, such as dementia caused by medications, infections, hormone imbalances, vitamin deficiencies and alcohol and drug abuse can be cured, most cases cannot.

Read more on HealthCentral about the many ways that dementia can present itself:

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Is It a Good Idea to Quit Your Job to Care for Your Elderly Parent?

WomenOldYoungYou already know what may be gained by giving up employment and becoming the sole caregiver for your parents. You are the hands-on person and know their care intimately. You know how they are doing day and night and you hope they will appreciate your help. They raised you and you want to give back. You also could save the money that would be spent for in-home care or adult day care, plus you likely put off, if not eliminate, the need for nursing home care. Therefore, quitting a job and staying home to care for your aging parents could save them significant money. What do you lose if you quit your job to provide care for your parents?

Read more on Agingcare about quitting a job to care for your parents:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Having the End-Of-Life Talk with Our Elders

ElderTalkFew of us like to consider the fact that our parents will die. However they will. Nothing will change that fact. Good medical care, solid healthful habits, a pleasant social life – all of these may extend our years, but in the end, we will die. With this in mind, it is to everyone's advantage to discuss the details at as early a stage as possible. As I told my kids when I had my own legal papers drawn up, "Let's do all of this and then get on with the business of living." We did just that, and while my sons didn't find the prospect of my death fun to talk about, they dutifully listened to what I had drawn up and where I keep my papers. Whether it is the adult children or the parents who don't want to have the talk, this is something that needs to be done.

Read more on Agingcare about having the end-of-life talk:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol


What Complications of Alzheimer’s Cause Death?

  Brain6If you asked a friend or neighbor what they think are the most common causes of death in elderly people they’d probably list heart attack, stroke, cancer and pneumonia. Few would say Alzheimer’s disease. One reason for the lack of knowledge, according to Byron D. James, Ph.D. who is a researcher with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, is that “Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are under-reported on death certificates and medical records.”

Read more about the complications of Alzheimer's that can lead to death:

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


5 Positive Effects of Long-term Caregiving

MindingOurElderswebsite50%After decades of caregiving I’ve experienced some negative effects as noted in 5 Negative Effects of Long-term Caregiving. However, I also experienced positive effects that continue to give me pleasure and enhance my life. I purposely saved the positive aspects of caregiving for the second article because, having recently written about the ill effects on our health caused by negative thinking, as well as my own penchant for ending of an upbeat note, it seemed more authentic to me as a writer.  Below are a few of the many things that I feel I have gained, and still am gaining, from long-term caregiving.

Read more on HealthCentral about the positive effects of long-term caregiving: 

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Telling Your Loved One That It's Time for Hospice

Comfort3Our culture has historically been devoted to cure illness at all costs, and death is often looked at as "failure," no matter the age or condition of the person being treated. Many other cultures readily accept death as part of the life cycle. I believe we, as a culture, are making progress in this direction, but death still tends to be a word people avoid. If it's up to you to inform a loved one that he or she would be more comfortable under hospice care – or that a person they love will be on hospice care – there are steps you can take to get you through this difficult transition.

Read more on Agingcare about breaking the news that it's time for hospice:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


5 Negative Effects of Long-term Caregiving

MoneyThere are countless positive aspects to long-term caregiving, but those who’ve done it know that there are also many negative effects – many lifelong. While some effects have been well studied with some frequency during this last decade, there are changes that occur within most caregiver’s lives that are hard to measure. Some are nearly universal to caregivers, some perhaps more unique to me. Therefore you, the reader, may have additions and subtractions if you were to make your own list. Below is a short list from my personal experience.

Read more on HealthCentral about the negative effects of long-term caregiving:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Difficult choices Evolve Regarding When to Stop Treating Elders' Diseases

ComfortDear Carol: My beloved mother has suffered from health problems all of her life including lung disease, cancer and eventually dementia. She was hospitalized with pneumonia several times but always came out of it. At the age of 78, while in a nursing home, she again came down with pneumonia. She didn’t seem to be improving with antibiotics and the doctor and nurses all agreed that it was time to, as they say, let her go. I reluctantly agreed, but now that she’s gone I feel guilty. I know that people ask you this a lot. Now it’s my turn. I wonder if I should have pushed to get her into the hospital once more. Maybe they could have saved her. She was my best friend and I’m having trouble coping. Maggie

Read more on Inforum about how to cope with the hard decisions of end-of-life:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


What’s Developing in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

 By Lawrence Friedhoff, MD, PhD


Lawrence_FriedhoffMy work in Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics began about 20 years ago. After completing my medical training, I was interested to explore another side of medicine—how new drugs are developed.

Attitudes toward dementia have changed drastically over the past two decades. Back then, the term Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t widely used, nor was Alzheimer's disease seen as a credible illness. Instead, people referred to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as "senile dementia,” an inevitable consequence of aging that was considered untreatable.

In the early 90’s, I began working for a mid-size pharmaceutical company, and was placed in charge of finding promising new drugs to bring to market. In looking through many drug candidates and speaking with the scientists who had invented them, I came across a molecule, “E2020,” that I suspected would be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. I was able to obtain some development budget for E2020, and worked with a small team to get the molecule worldwide drug approval. About 5 years later, that drug became available to patients as Aricept (donepezil), which was then, and is still, the most widely used Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

Scientific and public attitudes about Alzheimer's disease changed with the approval of Aricept and subsequent medications: doctors became more educated about the disease and its diagnosis, and patients and their caregivers became more optimistic about the development of even better treatments.

The medical and scientific communities want to answer that call. Recently, there has been a push to explore medicines targeting a particular protein, beta amyloid, which tends to accumulate in the brain as we age, and is associated with dementia. The hope that these beta amyloid-targeted products could cure Alzheimer's disease meant an enormous amount of time and money was put into their development. Unfortunately, thus far, these investigational drugs have not yet shown any convincing benefit to patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although scientists are still pursuing new beta amyloid treatments, I believe the scientific community is turning its attention back to neurotransmitter-targeted drugs, which, like Aricept, act on essential chemicals within the brain in order to augment the brain’s normal functions. I’m currently leading the development of one such drug, called RVT-101, which has strong evidence of benefit to mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients’ cognition and ability to perform daily living activities.

RVT-101 appears to be very well tolerated and is an oral, once-daily pill, so it’s easy for patients to take. Based on the results obtained to date, we believe RVT-101 has a good chance of becoming a widely-used drug for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We are currently enrolling patients in a Phase III clinical trial of RVT-101, and we think it will be the final trial needed in order to get FDA approval and make the drug available to all patients. Until then, all patients who enroll in and complete our large clinical trial will have the opportunity to receive RVT-101 for up to one full year.

It's important to understand that clinical trials are a fundamental part of getting new treatments to patients, and are especially important for Alzheimer's disease drugs. Tests of Alzheimer's disease treatments in animals have not been predictive of the results in human patients except in a few rare cases. Furthermore, clinical trials can provide benefit to both the patient and future generations: they provide patients an opportunity to get a new drug earlier than would otherwise be possible, and participants may contribute to the advancement of drugs that help other patients. As Alzheimer’s disease occurs more frequently in women than in men, women’s participation in clinical research is particularly important.

However, patients should remember that there is no guarantee that the investigational drug in a clinical trial will ultimately prove to be beneficial— and all drugs have side effects. If clinical trials interest you or a loved one, make sure to discuss participation with your doctor and the staff running the clinical trial in order to determine which clinical trial, if any, is right.

BIO:

Dr. Friedhoff's career in pharmaceutical R&D has spanned more than three decades. During this time he has led and managed teams that developed and obtained approval for six new drugs, including Aricept® (donepezil), the most widely used drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Friedhoff is the Chief Development Officer at Axovant Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on dementia solutions. He is the author of "New Drugs: An Insider's Guide to the FDA Approval Process for Scientists, Investors, and Patients" and has authored and co-authored numerous articles for peer-reviewed publications. He holds an MD from New York University, a PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

The MINDSET Study for Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Is Open for Enrollment! 

As a participant in the MINDSET study, Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers can have access to study-related medical care from specialized teams in this field.  Participants can continue to see their regular doctor(s) while participating in this study, and medical insurance is not required to participate. 

Interested patients and caregivers are invited to visit www.AlzheimersGlobalStudy.com to see if they may pre-qualify.