Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
According to an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Alzheimer’s Talks recap, for National Minority Health Month (April) the talk focused on a first-of-its-kind study using tailored text messaging to boost Alzheimer’s knowledge in African Americans. African Americans are up to three times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to get AD. AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s Executive Director Stephanie Monroe spoke with Karen Lincoln, PhD about her work on improving health literacy and generating knowledge to improve health, testing different health education approaches on Alzheimer's knowledge and attitudes, and outreach and engagement with aging adults in underserved communities.
A May 2, 2018 Samford University article spotlighted the “Building a Dementia-friendly Community through a Framework of Faith” public lecture at Beeson Divinity School’s Hodges Chapel, co-sponsored by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Dementia Friendly Faith campaign initiative. World-renowned Scholar James M. Houston, who was the primary caregiver for his wife who had dementia, spoke about the four necessary components for building a dementia-friendly community through a framework of faith. “In recalling his wife’s final years, he says he does not relive his memories through a negative lens, but instead, he remembers how it was a privilege to care for his wife and to be her memory keeper. “There is only a thin membrane between this life and the life to come. She feels closer to me now than when she was alive.” ”
According to an April 30, 2018 The New York Times article, only one-third of Americans have completed an advance directive for medical care. And those who have may not know that documents typically do not cover likely scenarios related to dementia, including specific instructions about feeding. End of Life Choices New York created the Advance Directive for Receiving Oral Food and Fluids in the Event of Dementia to address this specific issue. According to the article, “Dr. Anne Kenny from the LiveWell Alliance said, “With dementia, by the time you get to the point of having to decide what you want done, you’ve largely lost the capacity to do so. Many people don’t realize that making these choices in advance does not cause people to lose hope. It creates more hope because patients know their wishes would be heard and respected instead of deferring to the default position of the medical system, which is longevity at all costs.” ”
PROFILES IN COURAGE
A May 4, 2018 Parade article spotlighted the stories of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of cognitive decline. One such caregiver is Dan Gasby, husband to restaurateur and former model B. Smith. He recounts his experience, “ “Every day, I know I’m going to go through a range of emotions, from her hating me and calling me names to her thanking me for being there,” he says. Though Gasby will sometimes lose his patience—and later will feel terribly guilty—he keeps on doing the best he can. Smith is still the woman that he loves, he says, “and I know if it was in reverse, she would do the same for me.” ”
A May 3, 2018 Fox 59 video and article showed a flash mob in an Indianapolis library, organized by American Senior Communities, raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. Local high school cheerleaders participated with more than 100 people. “We actually got to learn about it and I’m glad we are now knowledgeable about this situation that is going on," said Ashley Brightwell, a Crispus Attucks student.
RESEARCH AND SCIENCE
A May 4, 2018 News Medical Life Sciences article spotlighted studies in mice, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, which showed that blocking a particular receptor located on astrocytes (non-neuronal cells involved in the regulation of brain activity and blood flow) normalized brain function and improved memory performance. According to Professor Gabor Petzold, “…One of the main jobs of astrocytes… to keep neurons healthy and to help maintain neuronal network function. However, in Alzheimer's disease, there is aberrant activity of these networks. Many cells are hyperactive, including neurons and astrocytes. Hence, understanding the role of astrocytes, and targeting such network dysfunctions, holds a strong potential for treating Alzheimer’s.” Also covered by Science Daily.
CLINICAL TRIAL SPOTLIGHT
A May 3, 2018 Endpoints News article reported that Merck ran a clean study for verubecestat, a BACE drug being tested for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug cuts off the flow of amyloid beta to the brain, yet showed no effect on participants’ cognition and function. According to the article, “The conclusion they reached is that the damage already present in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s may be too extensive to treat with any BACE drug. And they also concede that the amyloid theory itself may be just flat wrong.” Also covered by Medscape.