Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
RESEARCH AND SCIENCE
According to a May 2, 2018 SunHerald article, researchers are studying samples of cyanobacteria mats from an Antarctic expedition, preserved for more than 100 years at the museum in London, which contain toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases. They provide a baseline for toxin levels before pollution and climate change, which is crucial because recent increases in frequency and duration of cyanobacteria blooms may be associated with increases of neurodegenerative diseases. According to researcher Paul Cox, “…Residences of ALS patients in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine tend to cluster near lakes or rivers with frequent cyanobacterial blooms. We do not have similar data for Alzheimer's disease. Thus, we suggest that exposure to cyanobacterial blooms could trigger Alzheimer's disease, but this has not yet be conclusively proven.”
An April 26, 2018 WACH Fox 57 article spotlighted caregiver and retired bishop Ken Carder, whose wife, Linda, is in the final stages of advanced dementia. According to Ken, "Love endures. I haven't met anyone yet who did not respond to love. I can look in her eyes and see her flirting with me sometimes. The poet William Blake said you kiss the joy as it flies by. That's what I do. I think our goal is to surround people with love and care so they know they are valued to the very end. Life is beautiful and life is hard. It's both. And it's learning to see the beauty in the midst of the hardness of life and I think we can find that."
PROFILES IN COURAGE
A May 1, 2018 Fast Company article by Val Brown reflected on hard-won lessons learned while caring for her mom with Alzheimer’s disease, which she applies to both her personal and professional life. According to Brown, “Anyone who’s cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows all too well the pain, frustration, and suffering experienced by both patient and caregiver. Many of us must also hold down a job or keep a business running while managing doctors, home health workers, finances, legal documents, prescriptions, food shopping, equipment rentals and, of course, just spending time with your ailing relative. Then there are the minor details of your own personal life, which can instantly fall to the bottom of your never-ending to-do list.”
An April 30, 2018 NPR Public Health radio segment and article spotlighted an Army-commissioned report, “Protecting Warfighters from Blast Injury,” from the Center for a New American Security, concluding that military personnel may be endangering their brains when they operate certain shoulder-fired weapons. This is in addition to growing evidence that blasts from weapons affect the brain. According to the article, “Studies show that some service members who fire these weapons repeatedly have short-term problems with memory and thinking. What's not clear is whether those temporary changes can lead to permanent deficits.” Also covered by Daily Mail.
An April 30, 2018 Vox article looked at the risks of youth football as a contributing factor for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) later in life. CTE is a degenerative brain condition believed to be caused by repeated hits to the head which can result in lasting, structural changes in the brain. Brains with CTE accumulate tau, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. CTE symptoms take 8 to 10 years to manifest after initial repeated brain traumas, and can grow worse over decades.
An April 27, 2018 NPR article focused on the rising trend of caring for family caregivers with special programs and support groups. One such program is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which hosts specialized art discussion groups. According to the article, “The National Gallery's program is part of the trend focusing on the health, well-being and education of these caregivers, who are usually unpaid. "We know that involvement with art improves well-being," says Carolyn Halpin-Healy, executive director of the Arts & Minds program for caregivers and patients at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "In our own research for persons with dementia, we see a reduction in apathy," Halpin-Healy says. "For caregivers, we see less isolation and a reduction in stress." "