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Alzheimer’s and Communication: Some Suggestions

Hands8Since communication is vital to quality of life, we who care for those with Alzheimer’s or other diseases that make understanding language difficult need to learn unique methods of coping with the challenge. It’s not easy. When your wife thinks you are her brother, when your dad thinks his best friend is robbing him, when your 75-year-old mom insists that her baby is in danger – it will be your challenge to try to find words or actions that will calm your loved one and redirect his or her thinking. Conversely, when your loved one is trying to tell you that he or she wants coffee but is saying the word “bread,” you will be faced with the challenge of trying to understand what is desired. 

Read more on HealthCentral about communicating with people who have dementia:

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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


Surprising Changes that May Indicate Dementia

BrainWhen the average person thinks of dementia, generally Alzheimer’s disease comes to mind, and when people think of Alzheimer’s they think of memory loss. Both of these conclusions are understandable since Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and memory issues are often the first symptom of that disease. Surprising then, to many people, is the fact that there may be more subtle indicators of potential Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia than memory lapses. If we feel that dementia may be in our future or that of our loved one, what other indications of cognitive change should we watch for?

Read more on HealthCentral about subtle signs of potential dementia:

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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


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


Mounting Evidence Shows Chronic Stress Increases Alzheimer's Risk

Stress_man_hand_238162The idea of chronic stress as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease isn’t new. In 2011, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich discovered that the increased release of stress hormones in rats leads to generation of abnormally phosphorylated tau protein in the brain and ultimately, memory loss. Other studies also support this theory.  

Read more on HealthCentral about how stress affects our Alzheimer's risk:

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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


Group Singing Offers Multiple Benefits for People with Dementia

Piano...Why would we be surprised? People with dementia are not less intelligent after they develop the disease than they were before. They aren’t less talented. They aren’t less in any way except that portions of their brains are being damaged so that they can’t always function well in the world as we know it. Anything that can level the playing field for people with dementia is bound to give them joy and renewed confidence.

Read more on HealthCentral about the benefits of group singing for people with dementia:

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Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


5 Targets for Alzheimer’s Research

Researcher2While plaques and tangles involving amyloid and tau proteins have been the targets of most Alzheimer’s research during the last decade, there are researchers who aren’t certain that this is the only approach to be taken.

Continue viewing slideshow on HealthCentral about some different targets for Alzheimer's research:

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


Early Detection of Alzheimer’s May Curtail Symptoms for a Time

Fog9Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, many people with some memory issues use that as an excuse to avoid seeing a diagnostician. They really don’t want to hear what they fear will be a diagnosis of AD. Given the stigma that still accompanies many brain diseases, that’s understandable. However, a recent study has shown that early detection and treatment can be beneficial by curtailing symptoms, or at least managing them more efficiently. 

Read more on HealthCentral about the benefits of early detection:

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


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.


Failing New Year’s Resolutions 101

ThinkstockPhotos-dv540031Whether or not it’s a conscious thought, many of us look at a new year as a time to make changes in our lives. We become energized for a few days. However, most of us are quickly caught up in routine. Whether or not we like the routine, it’s familiar, and the status quo often provides the path of least resistance. Therefore, even if we’re stuck in a life that’s not satisfying, we stay with the familiar. Change seems too hard.

Read more on HealthCentral about New Years resolutions and caregiving:

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Faith Helps Some Caregivers Relieve Stress According to Study

StormcloudAs a longtime family caregiver who provided, and continues to provide, differing levels of care for loved ones with illnesses, I can attest to the fact that caregiving can be unimaginably stressful. For dementia caregivers, the stress is even more extreme. Only lately have we seen the results of studies that have followed family caregivers. One of the most scientific, in that it uses hard physical evidence, was published last spring. The study, by Ohio State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging, showed that caregivers may have their life span shortened by four to eight years.

Read more on HealthCentral about how faith can help lower stress levels for some caregivers:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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